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The future of work is less smart technology and more smart humans

Man wearing black wire glasses

People aren't looking for lite lunch learnings.
They want in-depth, professionally delivered, comprehensive training

In a nutshell

  1. Despite the excitement and buzz about technology and AI, most people do not think these developments will affect their jobs.
  2. There is an appetite to acquire smart human skills.
  3. Upskilling smart human skills is not just a benefit to employees, but to employers too.

If, like Skills Consulting Group, you are in the business of helping organisations to have a future-fit workforce, then understanding employees’ and employers’ perceptions, expectations and needs with regard to the future of work is the foundation for developing strategy.

So when Skills Consulting Group asked TRA to do a deep dive into the topic, we knew this was an important piece of work and that it wasn’t an easy brief to answer. We also knew that there would be interest in the insights across many industries and Skills Consulting Group has been generous in allowing us to share some of the most significant findings at The Research Society's 2022 Human Insights conference in Sydney.

What none of us expected was that despite the excitement and buzz about technology and AI, most people do not think that these developments will affect their jobs. Even when we prompt people with trends around AI, digital transformation, climate change and a range of other significant influences, only around 50 percent of people think these things will have an impact on work over the next 5 years. And, when we ask if they are likely to specifically affect their work, we are looking at fewer than 1 in 4 people who expect any impact on their job.

The story is more complicated, of course. Whereas people are not concerned about the need to re-skill or up-skill in preparation for smart technologies – they assume their employer will keep them current – there is an appetite to acquire smart human skills.

Not soft skills which imply non-specific, personality-based characteristics. What they mean is the whole range of smart human skills, including ways of thinking, people management, team building, communication styles, decision making and many others. And this is where organisations are failing. The biggest gap between training wanted and training delivered is in these areas.

The delivery gap isn’t really surprising. Organisations have the competencies to teach people technical skills in relation to their specialist area but they don’t have the competencies to teach these smart human skills. Because people aren’t looking for a ‘lunch and learn’ lite version, instead they want professionally delivered comprehensive training.

The data from TRA’s research for Skills Consulting Group showed that satisfaction, motivation and likelihood to stay with an employer increase when learning and development plans are in place and executed well. Up-skilling smart human skills is not just a benefit to employees, but to employers too.

And, of course, who wouldn’t want a workforce of smart humans.

The insights that surfaced from this work are guiding Skills Consulting Group to develop skills programmes for organisations as they prepare for a future fit workforce.

For more information about this research contact:
Jane Kennelly at Skills Consulting Group

Colleen Ryan
Partner at TRA
Colleen has a curious and strategic mindset fueled by 40 years of experience in business across Europe, North America and APAC countries. With a fascination and deep understanding of what it is to be human, specifically applying principles from cultural sociology, social psychology, behavioural science, and cultural analysis, she brings breakthrough insights to brand strategy, creative development and customer centricity.

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