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Why are soft skills so important in the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

By Fi Darby

Artificial intelligence is often talked about as a replacement for the human workforce. The world of work is starting to acknowledge the possibility that AI will augment human capability rather than replace it. 

For those in the IT industry, this is an exciting prospect. However, it’s going to take a certain set of leadership skills to see this through. It'll also require some key soft skills to sell the idea of collaborating rather than competing with artificial intelligence.

Soft skills are vital to successful AI implementation

Soft skills are important to have in the IT industry now. It's anticipated that in 2028, technology is going to have an increasing impact on Australia’s key industries. It's predicted that 7% of Australia’s workforce will be displaced by new technologies. 

However, this will be balanced by productivity growth and new demand in other areas. Helping organisations move forward in ways that envision and empower their workforce will be a key role for industry managers. Examples of required soft skills include:
  • Communication: to reassure using clear and consistent messages
  • Agility: to utilise existing experience in new situations
  • Positivity: to encourage people towards skill development
  • Nurturing: to counteract uncertainty
  • Understanding: to appreciate human needs in a technological world

Soft skills to manage technological change

We all understand the need for retraining when it comes to job-specific skills. New partnerships between artificial intelligence and the human workforce will require changes right across the range of job competencies. Here are a few examples: 

1. Teamwork.

Teamwork has traditionally been encouraged through face-to-face activities. Future teams will be required to collaborate with artificial intelligence systems as well as each other. Although many teams already use technological collaboration tools, successful future integration will demand thought and careful implementation.

2. Communication.

IT professionals working together

Conversational AI (e.g chat bots) is gaining momentum. Future advancements are likely to see problem-solving through combined human and bot communications. Leading the workforce through this is going to require agile thinking and innovative training.

3. Leadership.

AI isn’t likely to replace human leadership entirely. However, it may take over more mundane tasks such as data analysis. This change is likely to increase the requirement for soft leadership skills like adaptability, envisioning and agility.

Future-proofing soft skills

Those who work in the IT industry are already seeing the benefits of developing their soft skills alongside their technical skills. The good news is that by enrolling in a relevant online course, you’ll be giving yourself the opportunity to do both.

Online study can improve your learning, motivation and communication skills. Furthermore, developing your soft skills is possible through most online IT courses. This can be easily demonstrated by relating a selection of key IT job roles to relevant online courses.

3 IT roles that need soft skills 

1. ICT security specialists.

It's been predicted that there is very strong future growth for ICT security specialists. This role combines technical competence with people management. Key aspects of the job require soft skills including:
  • Liaising with vendors and suppliers
  • Training on the use of systems
  • Daily face-to-face discussions
Suggested training program - ICT50120 - Diploma of Information Technology (Cyber Security)

This qualification provides additional soft skills development. These include:
  • Strengthening problem-solving skills
  • Leading a team in an IT environment
  • Analytical thinking skills 

2. IT business and systems analysts.

computer analysts working together

As requirements for complex IT systems grow, predictions for the future growth of this job role are strong. Business and systems analysts work closely with users to develop complex project briefs. The soft skills required include:
  • Understanding customer requirements
  • Organising processes
  • Planning and prioritisation
Suggested training program – ICT50120 - Diploma of Information Technology 

Big IT projects bring massive changes to any organisation. Ensuring smooth implementation and transition is a vital factor in project success. This course covers a range of units to help with this including:
  • Lead and facilitate a team
  • Manage client problems
  • Match ICT needs with the strategic direction of the organisation

3. Computer network professionals.

In a global digital environment, having secure network systems in place can make a difference in a business. It’s no surprise therefore that predicted future growth for this job role is very strong. However, network success relies on user competence. Soft skills that can facilitate this include:
  • Communication and comprehension
  • Problem solving
  • Explaining complex ideas
Suggested training program – ICT50120 - Diploma of Information Technology (Advanced Networking) 

Computer networks are only effective when they meet a specific and detailed set of needs. This qualification has units available that can help you develop soft skills including:
  • Apply IP, ethics and privacy in ICT environments
  • Lead and facilitate a team
  • Protect critical infrastructure for organisations

A partnership of skills

In today’s world of business insecurity, there is one certainty - technology and artificial intelligence are here to stay. As we advance further into the 21st Century, the implementation of AI will bring interesting challenges. Leadership soft skills will be required alongside technical skills. Managers will need to find new and innovative ways to lead their teams into previously uncharted waters.

Upskilled offers a range of nationally recognised online information technology courses. Each course has been designed to cover a range of technological and personal competencies. Get in touch today to find out how Upskilled can help take your team to the next level in IT.
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