As a society, we are no strangers to the side effects of automation. When our ancestors developed a plow to till their fields, a single farmer could suddenly do as much work as a dozen men. When the printing press arrived in Europe, scribes who had carefully cultivated their craft quickly found themselves out of work.
The biggest difference between modern workers and our industrious ancestors is that we face a much more rapid pace of automation. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that more than 40 percent of all U.S. companies will deploy some form of artificial intelligence this year, eliminating as much as 10 percent of U.S. jobs. As the pace of automation increases, workers will have to reassess their skill sets to determine where they will best fit in the new, emerging economy.
Why soft skills are more important than ever
When robots come for human jobs, the humans have to adapt to new types of work. Think about some of the jobs that have sprung into existence recently. Data scientists, content curators, virtual assistants and app developers wouldn't exist without the steady evolution of technology. Even some traditional jobs have seen a surge in demand as automation progresses. For example, research from MIT found that the number of bank branches in the U.S. quadrupled between 1980 and 2010, despite the growing prevalence of automated teller machines.
The financial industry discovered that the convenience of ATMs could coexist with customer demand for relationship-based banking. People appreciate face-to-face interactions with their bankers. That's why soft skills like empathy, collaboration, interpersonal communication and creativity will always be in demand.
Check out our infographic to see which soft skills are worth developing in 2019: