The workplaces of the future are expected to demand a wide range of skill sets, of which soft skills remain a top priority amidst leading organisations. We explore how learning technology can help support soft skills development for the future of work.
Work, as we know, is changing and
evolving at an alarming rate, so much so that there are growing fears of more jobs
being lost to automation and advanced technologies like Artificial Intelligence
(AI), with over 37% individuals afraid of automation hijacking their jobs,
according to a survey
And, the trends from past few years
only substantiate such fears, with increased workplace automation and uncertain
work placements driving the demand for a highly skilled workforce, one that is
not only proficient in advanced technical skills but also possesses the ability
to adapt and evolve with these changing trends.
According to an analysis by
Udemy, there is a strong emphasis on soft skills from leading organisations,
based on the training courses their employees are required to take in order to have
a better understanding of skills shortages. Whereas, The Future of
Jobs report from World Economic Forum suggests that five years down
the line almost 35% of skills deemed critical today will inevitably change.
Technical skills or hard skills
will no doubt remain in high demand, but as technology takes care of most of
such hard skills, organisations will have to increasingly look at investing in
soft skills, the likes of communication, critical thinking and creativity, leadership
and emotional intelligence. In essence, automation and the human workforce will
be expected to complement each other, rather than compete for relevance.
As a result,
building a multi-skilled workforce, one with crucial soft skills, remains a top
priority for organisations, albeit it is also a key area of concern as stated
in the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey, with almost 46% respondents citing talent acquisition as a
critical issue. So, it is up
to Learning & Development (L&D) leaders and their respective organisations
to prioritise investments in the soft skills development of their workforce.
Role of Learning &
A report from Accenture Strategy states, “Paradoxically,
the truly human skills, from leadership to creativity, will remain highly
relevant and winning organisations will strike the right balance by leveraging
the best of technology to elevate, not eliminate their people… Creating the
future workforce now is the responsibility of every CEO. Those leaders who make
their people a strategic business priority and understand the urgency of this
challenge will be the ones that make the greatest gains in growth and
Clearly then, soft skills like
learning and adaptability will help ‘create
a foundation for learning all other skills’, while they will also drive career
development and help individuals secure long term professional stability, and
L&D professionals can support this by devising innovative and diverse
learning programmes and leveraging existing and emerging learning technology
However, there are critical
barriers that obstruct the soft skills development process, with one of the
major challenges being that organisations would rather hire new individuals who
are already skilled in these ‘soft skills’ rather than upskill their existing
employees. And, major drivers of this practice are the rising attrition rates
around the globe. Today’s modern employees (especially millennials) prefer organisations
that care about their career development, whereas organisations just don’t want
to invest in the skilling of an employee if s/he will take those skills
elsewhere within two years of employment.
While there is no definitive answer
to this conundrum, a majority of the responsibility still rests on L&D
professionals to find the right balance where employees of the organisation
feel engaged, secure and committed towards their professional development as
well as the development of the organisation. Easier said than done? Yes. But,
done it could be.
Leveraging Learning Technology
There are several steps L&D professionals
can take to solve the critical challenge of soft skills development by focusing
on improving the capabilities of existing employees, thereby minimizing the necessity
of hiring external talent, and learning technology solutions like innovative
Learning Management Systems (LMSes) and learning ecosystems can further drive
soft skills development.
Albeit a Towards
Maturity Learning Benchmark report suggests that soft skills like
problem solving, critical thinking and teamwork stand a lesser chance of being delivered
online or electronically than courses on IT, compliance, health and safety etc.,
Towards Maturity also identifies ‘high-achieving’ organisations that prefer using
technology to deliver these skills.
There are a number of learning
technology solutions and training delivery methods that L&D professionals
can leverage, including Mobile Learning, Microlearning, Social Learning, among
many others to deliver soft skills training to their workforce. The Learning
Benchmark report also highlights the performance of a Blended Learning approach
taken by organisations who successfully improved efficiency by integrating
technology into traditional (face-to-face) training; while over 84% organisations
are leveraging blended learning.
Here are few of the most important soft skills that will soon become the future hard skills, according to the London College of International Business Studies-
Creativity is the bedrock of innovation, and without innovation there cannot be
progress. However, it is important to note that a growth mindset is a prerequisite
for a creative mindset. While continuous learning paves the way for a growth
mindset, learning technology is a perfect enabler of continuous learning, and
together they can foster limitless creativity.
Where machines can do a task much quicker, humans have the advantage of
critically thinking about the possible outcomes arising out of it, which
eventually lends itself to good problem solving skills. Learn-tech solutions,
especially LMes, can host ready-to-use courses (Off-the-Shelf courses) on
diverse topics, including Management & Leadership, Business Skills and many
more, which distill knowledge into such desired soft skills like critical
thinking and problem solving.
Empathy and understanding each other’s experiences is a strategic advantage
for humans to develop products that are more intuitive and meet the demands of
the future generations. And, with the help of modern learn-tech solutions like
Social Learning, developing emotional intelligence in the longer run becomes
easy and more efficient.
With technology reigning supreme, we will need to collaborate and work as a
team, often on a global scale with diverse people, demanding soft skills like teamwork
and communication, which can be effectively achieved through an LMS that offers
knowledge sharing and collaboration features.
learn-tech solutions and LMSes further enable many diverse learning opportunities
through integration with popular content marketplaces, including Udemy,
LinkedIn Learning and Lynda that can offer an ocean of knowledge for learning in-demand
Few jobs will
inevitably be lost to automation and technology. However, our greatest strength
is our persistence and adaptability. There is no need to fear change, but to embrace
it and empower people to build a more adaptable workforce, along with the
required soft skills they will need to compete for the future of work. And it
all begins with investments in learn-tech.