Talents Need Skills of Tomorrow or Face Obsolescence When AI Takes Off

If your job can be easily explained, it can be automated. That’s Anders Sandberg of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute talking about artificial intelligence, which is accelerating the demise of some skills.

The quote comes from the New Yorker piece, “Are Robots Competing for Your Job,” which also warns about the threat of today’s most in-demand skills becoming tomorrow’s low-demand skill, even the act of writing things down; yes, this blog piece included. To think that only two years ago, artificial intelligence or AI was not even a buzzword.

Consider it a challenge facing many human resource managers today, and how global mobility managers assigned to bring in foreign talent would do well to notice and learn.

That technology is creating changes in the workplace — too fast for an individual talent to cope with. Imagine this all-too-familiar dilemma: a student spends four years in college, hitting the books, honing their abilities in extra-curricular activities, only to realize after graduation the things they learned in university bear little relevance to the requirements of their new employer.

As a result, recruiting managers make do with what they face across them in the interview room. They look at the candidate’s potential, attitude, and their flexibility in adapting their knowledge and skills to their new working environment; problem-solving skills are essential. Global mobility managers do the same, but this time factor in other elements such as cultural immersion, language differences, and a foreigner’s adjustment to a new corporate process.

However, this time-honored strategy may no longer be enough. Once the Fourth Industrial Revolution starts accelerating and invading the global workplace, those who cannot keep up with the pace will be left behind.

Smarter companies — or organizations with smart, forward-thinking leaders — are not leaving this to chance. Instead, as Quartz points out, they are raising Talent Champions, a new generation of human resource managers who anticipate the skills that will be needed in the future, and then seek out candidates who are preparing themselves to master those skills.

It is a very proactive approach that can help their companies withstand the forces of change at the very least, or enable them to become pioneers and disruptors themselves at the very best.

There are a few basic steps if you want to become a Talent Champion of your company.

First, take a look at the bigger picture. Don’t focus on the skill set first, but rather study which industries will rise and which will fall in the next few years. The World Economic Forum is one important resource, as it regularly does forecasts on the economies and related aspects of it, such as employment.

In its latest study, it names the “job families” or occupational skills categories that will gain more importance in the next decade, and hence, will need more candidates. These are Architecture and Engineering, Computer and Mathematical, Management, Business and Financial, and Sales.

At the other end of the spectrum are jobs or industries that will face disruption, transformation, or possibly even slow extinction: Installation and Maintenance, Construction, Arts/Design/Entertainment/Sports/Media, Manufacturing and Production, and Office and Administration. Already, ride-sharing platforms may have more self-driving cars running by next year.

Lesson learned for global mobility managers: the emergence of the first job families indicates that their professionals are the ones that your organizations will be hiring in the next few years. Meanwhile, those who work in the latter job categories might find their skills less and less in demand as time marches on.

Next, you might want to take a look at job research conducted by firms like Guthrie-Jensen. The company already listed the jobs that companies will be seeking to fill in the near future: data analysts, medical technicians, sales and marketing specialists, customer service representative, software developers and computer programmers, veterinarians, product designers and creatives, teachers and trainers, and accountants and auditors.

Your company might not need all of these professionals right now, but it wouldn’t hurt to create a pipeline of candidates who can fill those roles should the need arise.

The last stage would be doing your own extensive homework, and you might need the help of partners like business organizations, non-profit firms, and corporate housing companies like California Corporate Housing. List down the roles and responsibilities of the specialists above.

Align them with the tasks required in the emerging sections just discussed; you’ll end up with skill sets that your company will find vital to its operations. Like it’s touted these days, if your job is hard to explain, there’s still some hope a job is safe, for now.