‘Soft skills more vital than tech expertise’ for AI gains

robot2Business chiefs have claimed that 40% of their workforce will need to be reskilled within 36 months in order to take full advantage of the rise of artificial intelligence, with adaptability and time management skills way more important than STEM proficiency.

So says a new report by IBM, which claims people skills could be more important for employees than technical expertise, and versatility will be crucial in order to embrace AI tools.

When it comes to the AI jobs apocalypse, nearly nine out of ten (88%) bosses said roles will be augmented by AI instead of replaced by it, but this figure varied by sector. Almost all executives surveyed (97%) expected procurement roles to change but not be replaced by AI, compared to just 73% regarding marketing.

The study, entitled Augmented Work for an Automated, AI-driven World, was carried out in collaboration with Oxford Economics and is based on responses from 3,000 C-suite executives from 28 countries.

Ultimately the report states that while AI will not replace people, people who use AI will replace people who do not and the secret to organisational success is a human-machine partnership.

Companies that do this, rather than simply bolt on technologies to an outdated operational model, will reap the benefits, IBM claims, insisting that AI-ready employers will achieve 55% higher profitability, 44% greater revenue growth and a 33% higher level of engagement.

Employers must also use data and analytics to get a clear sense of how jobs are done today – this will enable them to experiment and try tools and technologies out.

However, IBM is clear that if companies want to successfully experiment, they need to engage employees in the process. They need to be intentional around change management, and have candid conversations with workers about how AI is not here to steal their jobs, but to augment them and make them better.

IBM Consulting senior partner and UK talent transformation leader Andi Britt said: “As we embark on a future where AI becomes an integral part of the workforce, our task is to adequately equip our employees for this key technology shift.

“Our research reveals that improving technology literacy for employees is a top talent issue. With 41% of the UK workforce expected to be reskilled as a result of implementing AI and automation over the next three years, it is crucial that executives are able to lead their workforce through this shift and enable them to succeed in the new era of generative AI.”

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