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The 5 skills you’ll need to stop robots taking your job

This article originally appeared in Financial Review

Bank teller machines, check-in kiosks at airports and self-serve supermarket checkouts are part of everyday life, but these automated tasks cannot provide a human experience.

The debate about the future of work has been fuelled the work of Oxford University researchers Carl Frey and Michael Osborne, which suggests nearly half of jobs as we know them will disappear. That’s about 5 million Australian jobs over the next 10 to 15 years, according to the 2015 Australia’s Future Workforce report.

McKinsey’s more hopeful outlook suggests the automation of repetitive and less cognitively demanding work will free up more thinking time to devote to innovation and creativity, improve productivity and performance and save about $12 trillion globally from wages and redeployment.

Whatever happens, the future of work will look different. So what qualities will we need to make the most of our unique human talents?

1. The ability to think deeply

Critical thinking is a highly desirable skill set that provides a pathway to better analytical thinking, better judgement and good decision-making. Asking better questions, seeking to validate and verify what we are told, helps us to be more effective when trying to resolve conflict or solve problems more quickly.

2. Self-awareness

Regulating our emotions requires awareness of how our thoughts and feelings affect our behaviour and affect others. This enables a considered response rather than a knee-jerk reaction to a situation where we are tired, frustrated or disagree with what is being debated.

3. Social intelligence

Getting on well with others as a leader, manager or member of a team requires us to recognise what may be going on in someone else’s head. We pick up cues from non-verbal language, facial expressions and tonality of voice. Building trust between people takes time and is built incrementally, and leads to greater empathy, contribution and collaboration.

4. Human connection

The desire for human attention at a time of increasing disconnect is manifested in the growing popularity of exclusive events that we are prepared to pay for. Whether an exotic holiday led by your personal tour guide, a personal trainer to whip you into shape or buying a concert ticket that includes an introduction to the performer, we crave human connection.

5. Creativity

Thinking outside the box, staying curious and exploring new mediums leads to the development of novel ideas and greater creativity and adaptability. We appreciate the art and artistry of those who dance, paint, sculpt, and write, which broadens our experience and improves cross-cultural competencies.

Dr Jenny Brockis is the Brain Fitness Doctor. She specialises in high-performance thinking and cognitive health and is the author of Future Brain: the 12 Keys to Create Your High Performance Brain (Wiley).

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