The jobs of the future require a skill set not held by people today, but communication will always be critical professional skill. As of late, we read and hear that through automation and artificial intelligence, the jobs we have today will be done by technology in the future. The response is the call for training, not just done once, but a shift to a culture of perpetual learning. A recent Deloitte report on ‘Rise of Cognitive Collaboration’makes the case for lifelong skill training in order for humans to work along side of machines to produce the best business outcomes. “That means organizations will need to provide that constant training and that individuals will need to shift their habit to one of constant learning,” stated the report.
A 2018 PEW Internet survey study on ‘The future of Jobs and Jobs Training’suggests that important skills are those that artificial intelligence (AI) and machines seem unable to duplicate; those that are uniquely human. The study found that experts believe, “. . . workers of the future will learn to deeply cultivate and exploit creativity, collaborative activity, abstract and systems thinking, complex communication, and the ability to thrive in diverse environments.”
Individual workers seem to agree. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey, ‘The State of American Jobs’ found that 87% of workers believe it will be essential for them to get training and develop new job skills throughout their work life in order to keep up with changes in the workplace. This survey noted that employment is much higher among jobs that require above-average interpersonal, management and communication skills.
Leading a workshop of emerging leaders in New York I asked the group, “Tell me a time when communication is not important in your job.” Thinking hard and coming up only with situations where communication mattered, finally somebody said, “In the kitchen getting coffee.” Then somebody else chuckled and chimed in, “Well that depends on who else is in the kitchen.” Effective communication is essential to every job on the planet today and it will continue to be so in the future.
I argue that human communication is becoming even more important as machines infiltrate every aspect of our jobs. Our environments are becoming more complex and ever changing. To adapt we need to utilize all the uniquely human communication skills, such as using all our senses to read a situation and people, and listening with an open mind to consider many perspectives and possible scenarios. The challenges of the rapid technological change in the coming decades will best be met by curious and communicative humans.