The workplace is becoming increasingly automated and robotic. Formerly people-oriented fields like customer service, food service and retail are becoming automated with kiosks, chatbots and online shopping portals. The computer science and technology fields are experiencing unprecedented shortages even as college enrollment in these majors has nearly doubled in only four years.
Technology Doesn’t Replace Soft Skills
Does the rise of technology mean that the so-called “soft” skills are becoming less important, however? On the contrary, it appears that human skills like communicating effectively, managing time well, and demonstrating good teamwork are becoming more important in an increasingly automated workplace.
Knowing how to use technology and build computerized systems isn’t enough in today’s workforce. The exponentially increasing complexity of technology as it develops means that it’s impossible to be a “lone wolf” and work all by yourself to complete these tasks. If you can’t work well with others to build systems, fix problems and keep people’s online information safe, your tech career will not end up going very far.
Even if your job is mainly solitary, there are other soft skills you will need. Without time management, you may not get something done on time and it may cause problems for other parts of the company. Without adaptability, you may be stuck in one way of doing something as technology changes and makes another way work much better. The soft skill of thinking creatively outside the box is needed to find solutions to many technology problems even if you’re working at home and no one else is around.
Soft Skills Are Being Neglected
In the process of preparing students for technical jobs or at least jobs with technical components (which is most jobs these days), it seems that schools are not teaching soft skills as much as they should. Some people think that soft skills are innate rather than learned, but they can be learned when they don’t come naturally. When schools focus on time management, organization, teamwork, and critical thinking as part of their curriculum, it benefits students and they are better prepared for the jobs they will eventually have.
Combinations of skills like programming with ethics, artificial intelligence (AI) with emotional intelligence, and logic with values or judgment will be the winning skills of tomorrow and will surpass technical knowledge alone. Technology becomes obsolete, and sometimes the skills that go along with operating technology do too. It is the people who know how to combine technical skills with soft skills that are best poised to succeed. Continuing education and professional development courses can help with soft skills development that complements technical skills to form the whole package in the workplace.
CCSU offers many continuing education courses that teach and build on soft skills in the workplace to balance out and complement technical skills. View open courses to see all your options and get started on continuing your education today.