Teamwork | Artificial intelligence and human skills

Every other Tuesday, human resources experts answer your questions. This week, advice from France Dufresne, Canadian head of the Employee Experience sector at WTW.

I am 35 years old and have been working in accounting since finishing university. What I read about artificial intelligence and the jobs that are set to disappear worries me. It is said that several of my tasks can be carried out by algorithms. So I wonder if, in 10 years, I will still have a job? How can I ensure my education and experience remains relevant? – Matthew

Mathieu, know that you are not alone! I hear similar concerns from workers in all professions. The role of artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming increasingly felt in workplaces, and is raising concerns about the sustainability of many jobs. In this context, I would like to offer here some thoughts to understand how to remain relevant in your organization and in the job market; as an employer, I believe it is also wise to offer the reskilling opportunities necessary to maintain the value of one’s human capital.

Humans have unique qualities

Recent research on the impact of AI on jobs does not necessarily predict the complete abolition of jobs, but rather a transformation of the tasks performed by workers. Although some repetitive or routine tasks can be automated, human skills are far from obsolete. On the contrary, there are several human qualities that AI cannot imitate or can hardly recreate, such as creativity, judgment, leadership, empathy and ethics, to name a few. The World Economic Forum recently released a study outlining which skills and competencies will be most in demand by organizations by 2027.

Consult the World Economic Forum study (in English)

To ensure your education and experience remains relevant, you need to learn new skills. More and more organizations are valuing the “T” approach to professional development. The vertical line of the T represents technical expertise in a specific discipline (e.g. accounting) and the horizontal line of the T represents the breadth of knowledge in different disciplines (e.g. procurement, sales, customer service). Transversal knowledge combined with resilience and adaptability are all qualities that ensure you remain relevant in a world where AI will be increasingly present.

There are several ways to acquire these skills. You can consider a lateral career path, participate in projects outside your organization (groups in your industry, professional associations, etc.), take training, and stay informed about advances and trends in your sector.

For more advice on career path, I invite you to consult my article on developing skills towards a management position.

Read our text “Thinking about the top early in your career”

And don’t hesitate to be curious and committed to the arrival of new technologies at work. Your positive attitude will help position you as an ally for change and could earn you a greater role in your organization’s plans.

You are Mathieu’s employer

Mathieu’s question also raises issues from an organizational point of view. If your employees are wondering about their relevance, it is surely worth thinking about how your organization will evolve to adapt to this new context. AI of course makes it possible to optimize processes, reduce errors and improve operational efficiency, but it also disrupts the way things are done.

First, ask yourself about the evolution of market conditions, your business strategies, your business objectives and, consequently, your talent needs to achieve these objectives. By establishing the organizational capabilities necessary for your business to function properly in this new context, you will be able to better determine the skills and expertise that will be required.

Evaluate your current talents. Take stock of the skills, abilities, potential and ambitions of employees. Determine skill areas where improvements are needed to meet future business needs.

This assessment will allow you to implement a talent management strategy; for example, the famous “Develop, hire, outsource, automate” model (from the English Build, Buy, Borrow, Bot) may be useful to meet your short and long term needs.

Develop (internal) : Target employees with growth potential and invest in their professional development. Offer training, mentoring programs and career progression opportunities to fuel your people’s aspirations. This strategy is often put forward for roles that are very specific to the organization or particularly essential to its success.

Hire (externally) : Take inventory of missing skills and expertise within your organization and recruit external talent to fill these gaps. Look for candidates with specialized skills and relevant experience to meet the specific needs of the company. This strategy is often put forward for roles whose expertise is easily transferable from one organization to another or for urgent needs.

Subcontract (use contract workers or consultants) : Explore options such as outsourcing certain tasks or using consultants for specific projects. This flexible approach allows you to meet temporary or specialized needs without tying up long-term resources.

Automate : Determine repetitive and isolated tasks that could be automated using technology. Free up employees’ time to focus on value-added work.

From my perspective, AI is a powerful tool that complements human skills rather than replacing them. Thinking that technology will do all the work in an organization or department is wrong. Organizations that are able to combine cutting-edge technology and human skills will stand out from their competitors and create dynamic work environments where people like Mathieu can exploit their creativity, critical thinking and judgment to meet the challenges of tomorrow.


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