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Artificial intelligence

Future-proofing your career: AI and the rise of soft skills


Automation is continuously changing the nature of work. But while many of us fear the so-called ‘rise of the robots’ will lead to widespread job losses, uniquely human abilities like emotional intelligence and leadership may help graduates to future-proof their careers. 

We’ve all read the headlines: The robots are coming and they’re going to take our jobs

Some studies predict that a whopping five million jobs will be lost before 2020 as artificial intelligence (AI) replaces the need for human employees. 

And with technology moving at break-neck speed, more and more industries are likely to be affected. Robo-lawyers will transform the way legal work is done and could see firms cut staff. News-writing bots will cover stories previously reserved for reporters. Even doctors won’t be spared, with IBM’s Watson supercomputer proving it is better at diagnosing cancer than humans.

This all may seem like grim news for students and graduates, but it’s not all bad. So-called “automation optimists” have even argued that the positives of AI could outweigh the negatives.  

The changing nature of work 

Amidst all the panic about robots taking our jobs, there is a view that automation should be welcomed rather than feared because it will result in new, as yet unimagined jobs, and free people up to do more meaningful work. That means jobs could simply change rather than disappear. 

A recent report by strategy firm Alphabeta said Australians should embrace AI because “machines will make human work more ‘human’”. 

“Computers are still far inferior to humans in handling unpredictable situations that require out-of-the-box thinking, empathy and understanding other humans,” the report says.

“Humans always find work to do — partly because technology creates new opportunities for workers and partly because humans are infinitely capable of redefining what we mean by work.” 

These are views shared by ACU graduate Liz Schenke, people and culture strategist and the Managing Director of Thrive HR

"The rise of artificial intelligence will not necessarily result in a loss of jobs, and in many cases will create new jobs and opportunities for people to do different and more interesting work,” Ms Schenke said. 

"But with that comes a challenge to individuals to be prepared to adapt. Nobody really knows what the future holds and nobody knows the jobs that are going to be there. If I was a student or a recent graduate, the questions I’d be asking myself are: What skills do I have that will ensure I survive and thrive in the future of work? And how do I make sure that I am vigilant and ready for whatever comes?”

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Impact brings you compelling stories, inspiring research, and big ideas from ACU. It's about the impact we’re having on our communities, and our Mission in action. It’s a practical resource for career, life and study.

At ACU it’s education, but not as you know it. We stand up for people in need, and causes that matter.

If you have a story idea or just want to say hello, do contact us.

Copyright@ Australian Catholic University 1998-2019 | ABN 15 050 192 660 CRICOS Reg: 00004G