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AI Can’t Compete With People Skills

Move over college degrees; employers are looking for something new.

Once upon a time, a college education was the ticket to getting a great job with good benefits. Is this still the case? According to a new report by networking platform LinkedIn, the skills hiring managers are looking for today can’t be learned in textbooks. In fact, job qualifications are being redefined as employers struggle to understand how artificial intelligence will come to affect society and the work world.

AI Encroaching on Employee Skills

Dan Brodnitz, global head of content strategy at LinkedIn Learning, said: “As organizations come to grasp the full extent of what AI can do, they’re also coming to terms with all that it can’t do – those tasks that require the uniquely human skills that all businesses need.” In other words, employers are looking for human skills, especially adaptability, in new hires.

LinkedIn’s “The Most In-Demand Skills for 2024” report suggests bad news for college grads. Nine out of ten global executives surveyed said “human” skills are more important than ever and “communication,” a soft skill, ranks number one. “In an era of hybrid work, employees communicate across an ever-expanding range of channels and platforms,” explained Brodnitz. “Since in-person collaboration is no longer the default, effective communication from company and team leadership across channels helps connect, motivate, and inspire your teams.”

AI has been changing the way people work and run their businesses over the past few years, and this trend is only expected to continue as artificial intelligence keeps getting integrated into our everyday lives. LinkedIn highlighted adaptability as the top “skill of the moment.” “It’s an indispensable skill that allows teams and organizations to keep steady and drive maximum impact,” the report states, adding:

“And this skill will become even more important as the pace of change only increases. Since 2015, skills for roles have, on average, changed by 25%; by 2030 it’s expected that number will reach 65%. Today, more than half of LinkedIn members hold jobs that stand to be disrupted or augmented by AI.”

Dave Birss, a LinkedIn Learning instructor, said: “It’s the people who understand how to collaborate with AI that will have a real advantage over the next few years.” And the company’s CEO, Ryan Roslansky, opined, “I believe we are in the early days of a world of work that is more human than before, giving us the chance to do more fulfilling work and to do that work more easily and effectively with others.”

Just how much have the top skills employers are looking for changed in the past decade? According to LinkedIn, these were the most popular skills on its platform:

Top 10 Skills for 2024

  1. Communication
  2. Customer service
  3. Leadership
  4. Project management
  5. Management
  6. Analytics
  7. Teamwork
  8. Sales
  9. Problem-solving
  10. Research

Top 10 Skills for 2014

  1. Statistical Analysis and Data Mining
  2. Middleware and Integration Software
  3. Storage Systems and Management
  4. Network and Information Security
  5. SEO/SEM Marketing
  6. Business Intelligence
  7. Mobile Development
  8. Web Architecture and Development Framework
  9. Algorithm Design
  10. Perl/Python/Ruby

Will Robots Replace Human Workers?

The LinkedIn report paints a rosy picture of personnel collaborating with AI and the workplace becoming more humanized. But is this true? What about the fear that artificial intelligence is displacing employees?

In 2023, Goldman Sachs estimated that “roughly two-thirds of current jobs are exposed to some degree of AI automation, and that generative AI could substitute up to one-fourth of current work.” A study by the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that 29.5% of all hours worked could be automated by 2030. The Center for American Progress says the workplace will be affected differently than it was during earlier periods of technological advancement. In the past, routine tasks that were replaced by technology mostly affected middle-wage jobs. “In contrast, the adoption of AI is likely to impact a much wider degree of occupations, automating or augmenting nonroutine tasks that had not been impacted by past automation,” the center proposes.

Diverging from LinkedIn’s report, the Center for American Progress suggests firms investing in AI tend to “shift towards more educated workforces, with greater emphasis on STEM degrees.” However, it does propose that adopting AI will likely lead to “increased demand for soft skills, particularly work that requires high emotional intelligence.”

It’s too early in the game to know just how great an impact AI will have in the job sector. There is a fear of robots taking over human jobs – and various workers have indeed been displaced by automation. However, in some cases, AI has added jobs. It’s a delicate balance and one that should be monitored closely.

Read More From Kelli Ballard

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