Skills Humans Will Need To Get A Job In The Robot Age

Experts agree if you want to compete in the job markets of the future you have to soften up and be human.

That's the word from executive trainer, Andrea Clarke, who has just written 'Future Fit', a guide to workplace adaptivity.

Clarke said "soft skills" or traditional people skills including leadership, creativity and the ability to listen and empathise, are what will give workers a critical edge in the changing workplace.

"The future of work is equally about talent as it is technology," she said.

Between 400 million to 800 million staff worldwide will be replaced by automation in the next decade, according to a report by global consulting firm McKinsey and Company.

Robots are quick learners and will be doing a lot of the jobs we see done by humans now. Photo: Getty

"There's a new breed of worker coming through," Clarke said.

"These are people who prioritise the human skills, these are highly creative and adaptable people, the super-communicators.

"This kind of talent is the future of work.

Australia's leading demographer Bernard Salt agrees.

"I think there is going to be, over the next decade, a major shift towards soft skills," said the man who first coined the "smashed avocado" phrase.

"So you may have good technical training from a good university, but you need to surround that with the ability to be self-confident, articulate, to be able to pitch your case.

Human skills along with technical know-how will be valued in future boardrooms. IMAGE: Getty Images

"The best skill I think you can develop yourself, and it doesn't cost anything, is the ability to package, present and project your skill set into the workplace.

Salt's top tips for workplace communication are: don't sit back in your chair, lean forward; look up and project and speak in complete sentences.

It's all about speaking with authority and authenticity, so you can have a valued voice in the meeting, no matter where you sit.

"Speaking with authority means understanding a couple of things - our vocal patterns, our use of language, our body language and of course our content," Clarke explains.

"We speak with credibility and really have more command when we understand each of those elements."

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And here's the big mistake so many of us make.

"When we speak up in meetings we preface the conversation by putting ourselves down.

"So instead of saying: 'look it's only my opinion' we can say 'this is what I've learned that might work in this situation'".

Every year the world's top CEOs are surveyed by Price Waterhouse Coopers, one of the biggest consulting agencies in the world.

"In this year's survey CEOs are concerned they cannot find staff who are creative enough for their business," Clarke added.

"The traditional school system is designed for mass production and not for the individual and so what we are seeing now is real shift - that human skills and soft skills are just as important as the hard knowledge.

It's difficult to predict what jobs will be required in 2035, but both Salt and Clarke stress - adaptability will be key.

"Think it through, project your ideas, package yourself and sell yourself into a job," Salt says.

Although many of us are glued to screens good verbals skills, and the ability to make friends easily and effortlessly will be more important than ever.

These can be taught early, through sport, community and interest groups.

And the best teaching ground of all - around the dinner table.