Hint: Are emotional skills on your CV already?
Empathy. Business schools and rock star startup founders (we’re looking at you Travis Kalanick) will have you believe that if you want to be wildly successful in an intensely competitive corporate world, it’s best for you to check that specific trait at the door. Turns out, they’re wrong.
Empathy, among a range of other emotional skills, will be among the most sought-after skills in jobs that your future self and your grandchildren will be competing for.
Make no mistake. The career-hungry robots are coming. It is estimated that two-thirds of the jobs in the developing world today could be automated by robots within the next few decades. The developed world will also face the brunt of this onslaught. Reportedly, up to 40 per cent of the current American jobs can potentially be replaced by a robot in the future.
In fact, there are several jobs that robots are already snatching away from humans. These include low-level skills like jobs in laundromats. With the rise of autonomous driving machines, robot truck drivers could replace traditional drivers over the next two decades.
The area though that humans trump robots by an unassailable margin is emotional intelligence. By that yardstick, jobs which rely heavily on reading, interpreting and delivering an emotional response are the ones that are robot-proof.
For example, take two careers that need high levels of emotional intelligence: teaching and nursing. Sure, a case can be made for machines hooked to the internet to teach mathematics to a classroom full of five-year-olds and for fellow machines to simulate physical tasks of caregiving to the elderly. But machines cannot spot the special needs of a child based on interpreting their body language and facial expressions, and nor will it likely ever have the refined bedside manners of veteran caregiver.
For robots to make a truly all-pervasive ubiquitous invasion of our offices, it might take two-three decades. That’s plenty enough of time for you to brush up on your emotional skills.