5 Critical Soft Skills Required to Thrive in the Age of Automation




Did you know that 50% of transaction-oriented jobs in India will be automated in the next 2-3 years? We, humans, have rapidly but silently moved on from the Digital Age to the Age of AI and Automation, which is known as the Hyper Automation Age.

Why should we take work automation seriously? 

Reason – Bots are emulating human actions, human voice, and human cognition. In other words, we have created a complete Digital worker using technologies like RPA, CAI, and Machine Learning.

The Digital worker is taking over many routines and repetitive tasks that were done by human workers until now. Digital worker technology adoption is at its nascence but will reach critical mass in 2-3 years. By then, digital workers will replace more than 50% of transaction-oriented jobs that require handling and management of data.

Jobs that will be automated:

  • Data Entry

  • Informational Research

  • Financial Analysis

  • Telemarketing

  • Print & TV Advertising

  • Customer Support 

  • Banking Services and Retail Checkout

  • Outbound Sales

  • Digital Marketing

  • Any repeatable task that can be learned

If you are working in any of these jobs or careers, you will get an unpleasant surprise in the near future. If you want to avoid the pain of losing your job to a bot, then this is the time to upskill yourself.

There are two types of skills that you will need to thrive in the age of automation:

Technical or job-specific skills: These are skills required to do well in your job. 

e.g., Software engineer – coding, testing, etc.

        Marketing executive – Copywriting, inside-sales, pre-sales, etc.

        Financial analyst – Cash flow Analysis, Risk-modelling, Equities research, etc.

Technical Skills: These can be acquired either on the job or from the outside like, training institutes or websites.

The shortcoming of technical skills is that their utility is temporary. A skill valued today will change 5-10 years from now. e.g., Lead generation was done primarily over phone and email 10 years ago but today, social media has changed that completely. So we need to learn how to use social media for lead generation. Hence you need to constantly upskill yourself every 2-3 years on technical skills in order to be relevant.

Soft Skills: These are skills that are human intrinsic meaning it involves using your mind, emotions, and body language. These are skills that are transferable from one job to the other.

The beauty of soft skills is that no bot can ever learn to acquire these. So we humans do not have any competition from bots when it comes to soft skills.

Soft skills are not temporary in nature. You just have to hone the skills and get towards utilizing them 100%.

The jobs of the future will require you to utilize your soft skills more and more:

  • Creative Design

  • Insightful Research 

  • Data Science/Analytics

  • Artificial Intelligence

  • Robotics & RPA

  • Consulting & Advisory

  • Coaching/Counselling/Training

  • Solo Entrepreneurship

  • Brand Management

  • Any task that requires deep work and/or human interactions.

A new World Economic Forum report, The Future of Jobs, looks at the employment, skills, and workforce strategy for the future.

Top 5 Skills

There are 5 critical soft skills that we should learn and hone in order to be successful:

1. Problem Solving

Problem Solving is a structured approach to solving a business problem.

  • Identify the problem/issue

  • Understand everyone’s interests

  • List possible solutions

  • Evaluate options

  • Select option

  • Document

  • Monitor

How do you develop or hone the skill:

  • Spend enough time upfront on understanding and defining the problem

  • Brainstorm with other stakeholders and explore multiple solutions

  • Test and evaluate solutions

2. Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a process of objective evaluation of facts and consideration of potential solutions to problems.

  • Helps in diagnosing the problem correctly

  • Identify solutions that are not obvious

  • Reduce decision conflict by minimizing bias especially in a team setting

How do you develop or hone this skill:

  • Get into the habit of asking questions until you fully understand the problem

  • Do not jump to finding a solution right away. Work with an open mind and explore 2-3 different ways of solving the problem

  • Learn from past projects by documenting lessons learned on every project.

3. Creativity

Creativity involves coming up with new ideas to solve a problem, thinking out of the box, doing something that was not done before. Creativity has two dimensions: innovation and invention. Innovation means you are improving or improvising an existing product or service. Invention means you are creating a new product or service.

How do you develop or hone creativity

  • Be curious: Fire up your imagination

  • Be willing to fail: Know that even big ideas fail. Edison failed a 1000 times before inventing the light bulb

  • Cultivate positive emotions by being around other positive people. Positive thoughts and emotions inspired.

4. People Management

Involves getting work through people who are your subordinates, peers, and bosses.

How do you develop this skill

  • Developing emotional intelligence, understanding other’s emotions, feelings and managing your relationships with them

  • Learn to manage by inspiring your subordinates, collaborating with your peers and aligning with your boss’s goals.  

5. Collaboration

Teamwork and collaboration are the very essences of work. Except for a few individual-oriented tasks, the majority of work requires teamwork.

How do you develop or hone this skill

  • Develop EI, understanding your emotions and managing them, understanding others emotions are managing relationship with other

  • Be a good listener

  • Build trust and respect


It is a fact that bots will take over many human jobs in the next 2-3 years. So in order to thrive in the age of automation, we need to focus on developing and honing the 5 key soft skills. 


About Author
Sushant Gaonkar