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Losing your job to robots is no longer a sci-fi fantasy.

Some estimates say, robots may take over more than five million jobs across 15 developed countries. Machines could account for more than half the workforce in places like Cambodia and Indonesia, particularly in the garment industry.

While such information has led many people to seek out higher-tech skills Tech Jobs of the Future: What To Study If You Want a Cool Job Tomorrow Tech Jobs of the Future: What To Study If You Want a Cool Job Tomorrow If you're a student and looking to land a good technology job of the future, understanding the direction of technology will help you position yourself to succeed, and figure out what to study to get... Read More , others have said we need a stronger emphasis on trade skills to combat the high competition in tech fields. In one 2016 survey, 60 percent of respondents wanted more emphasis on Shop classes in high schools, while a 2015 Gallup poll found that 90 percent of parents want computer sciences emphasized in schools.

The good news. There are some skills robots can’t embody, and if you have them, there’s no need to worry about losing your job due to robotic advancements Will Automation Make Your Job Redundant? Will Automation Make Your Job Redundant? Automation is changing the job market forever. Increasingly, white collar office jobs are affected. We take you through the history and future of job automation. Will there be any work left for humans? Read More . Better yet, many of them are transferrable, meaning they can help you advance your career, even if you need to change industries.

Here are eight skills that can keep your job from being handed off to a robot.

1. Complex Problem-Solving Skills

flowchart problem solving
Image Credit: Startup Stock Photos

Robots seem smart, especially when showed off during technology conference demonstrations. However, they only know what their programmers tell them. There are some exceptions, such as robots powered by machine learning 8 Skilled Jobs That May Soon Be Replaced By Robots 8 Skilled Jobs That May Soon Be Replaced By Robots Are machines coming for your job? You might be surprised. Recent advances in AI are putting white collar jobs at risk. Read More that get smarter through acquired feedback over time.

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Even so, people able to demonstrate complex problem-solving skills, such as IT personnel, can feel confident about job security during the rise of robots.

Sharpen your complex problem-solving skills by enrolling in the Creative Problem-solving and Decision Making course offered by DelftX. It teaches people how to solve tough problems using analytical thinking, causal modeling, goal trees, and more. This self-paced, free online course requires between 20-40 hours of effort.

Enroll — Creative Problem-Solving and Decision Making | DelftX (Get an optional verified course completion certificate for $50.)

2. Project and Personnel Management Skills

group project management
Image Credit: Unsplash

This broad group of skills applies to many jobs, whether you’re leading a team of 20 people who are hard at work developing a new iPhone app or maintaining an upbeat, productive workforce at a Fortune 500 company. People often depend on robots to complete segments of projects, but those machines can’t manage huge organizational accomplishments from start to finish.

Also, personnel management encompasses numerous subjects, from psychology to legal concerns associated with human resources. Robots can’t feasibly handle all the things human resource experts do.

The Project Management Professional (PMP) course from Cybrary tackles both of these areas. Geared toward technical project management but suitable for people in various fields, this course teaches people about the initiation, planning, and management phases for projects. It takes 5.5 hours to do and provides 10 CEU/CPE credits.

Module 6 is of particular interest to personnel managers. It discusses finding team members for projects, delegation techniques, the halo theory, and other essential information. People also learn to develop schedules and budgets.

Enroll — Project Management Professional (PMP) | Cybrary

3. Athletic Skills

fast bike racing
Image Credit: Thomas Borges

Watching and playing sports are two popular pastimes around the world, and during events like the Olympic Games, they bring people together regardless of geography. Professional athletes spend tremendous amounts of time conditioning their bodies, learning new skills, and honing the techniques they already know, all to give themselves the best chances to excel against fellow athletes in team or individual sports.

The professional sports industry 6 Human Jobs That Computers Will Never Replace 6 Human Jobs That Computers Will Never Replace Read More is not in danger of too much robotic influence. After all, watching robots run across a field isn’t very interesting, and part of the allure of professional athleticism is the uncertainty associated with it.

Assuming you’re already an elite athlete and just want to continue improving, the Athlete Learning Gateway is an excellent website to explore. Subjects offered include Sports Psychology, Exercise Physiology, and Smarter Eating for Better Performance.

One stark difference between these courses and the others covered so far is you can do some of these subjects in less than an hour. Explore them if you’re excited to expand your athletics-related knowledge and want to do so without taking too much time away from a rigorous training schedule.

Explore — Full course library | Athlete Learning Gateway

4. Confidence and Leadership Skills

business leader confidence
Image Credit: EnergePic.com

Confidence arguably helps you go further in life by making it easier to network with people, assert your skills, and give opinions. It’s an essential characteristic for certain jobs, especially in the legal sector. Think of the negative impact it would have on the judge if an attorney stammers and stares down at their feet when representing a client in court.

Leadership skills are similarly valuable because they help you set good examples for others and encourage them to pool their talents to meet common goals. Robots can’t mimic confidence or leadership skills to the extent humans do because they’re just programmed machines.

Enhance your confidence with a self-confidence online course. It lasts six weeks and enrolled students report feeling more relaxed and able to conduct themselves well in stressful environments.

Also, focus on getting better leadership skills and sign up for the Management for a Competitive Edge course taught by an instructor from the International College of Management Sydney. The fourth module of this self-paced course is all about leadership. It covers things like how to form groups and use different leadership styles.

Enroll — Self-confidence course | self-confidence.co.uk and Management for a Competitive Edge course | Open2Study

5. Critical Thinking and Judgment Skills

map critical thinking
Image Credit: RaxPixel.com

Although robots think critically and make judgments, these skills come from their programmers’ accumulated knowledge. Robots learn too, but programmers feed them information. Even educated robots Meet the Robot That's Trying to Take My Job Meet the Robot That's Trying to Take My Job This article wasn't written by a robot - but the next one you read might have been. Robots are already in our midst, and you might be surprised what they can do. Robots are reporting... Read More may not be able to make decisions based on what they know as swiftly as humans.

Become better at critical thinking and judgment by taking part in the Critical Reasoning for Beginners audio-based course from Harvard University. Split into six podcast episodes, the course teaches learners to evaluate the things they hear and read, then make informed judgments. Topics covered include validity and recognizing, analyzing, and building arguments.

Download — Critical Reasoning for Beginners | University of Oxford Podcasts

6. Empathy Skills

coworker empathy
Image Credit: iPrice Group

Even the most advanced robots can’t genuinely practice the crucial skill of showing empathy, or understanding what people feel. This skill is especially useful if you work for a charity, support statistically disadvantaged segments of the population, or assist people in the healthcare industry.

Become a more empathetic person with help from the Activating Empathy: A Roadmap to Changemaker Classrooms course. Although intended for educators, it goes through topics such as engagement and taking reflective action, so you can easily apply principles learned to any career. Earn a course certificate by making an Empathy Action Plan and using newly developed skills in a real-life application.

Enroll — Activating Empathy: A Roadmap to Changemaker Classrooms | Ashoka

7. Listening Skills

woman on laptop listening on phone
Image Credit: Unsplash

It’s hard to succeed in your job without well-developed listening skills. Customer service representatives listen to customers and ease their frustration. Psychologists hear patients diagnose mental problems and identify related distresses. These are just two examples of jobs where people constantly rely on good listening skills.

Tune into people in a more informed way by participating in the Listen for Understanding course presented by Global Mindset and hosted by LatitudeU. Past students rated the course highly. They said it helped them put listening skills into practice at work and tackle challenging interpersonal situations.

Enroll — Listen for Understanding | Global Mindset

8. Robotics and Hardware Repair

motherboard and pc components
Image Credit: JÉSHOOTS

One inevitable thing about robots is they malfunction. When that happens, people need to know how to read error codes, make educated diagnoses, and perform repairs. Interested in taking that career path one day?

Learn robotic fundamentals through the Begin Robotics online course with the University of Reading, courtesy of Future Learn. Lessons occur for three hours per week across a one-month span. The next live course begins on June 5, 2017.

Instruction happens on an ongoing basis, and you can sign up for notifications about other course dates, too. Discover history, capabilities, and anatomy of robots after enrollment.

Next, take on the Robot Mechanics and Control, Part I course taught by a University of Seoul professor and offered by edX. It explores robots’ inner workings so you can determine what to do when errors happen. Although the instructor periodically teaches the course live, you can study it on your own time in case of schedule conflicts.

Enroll — Begin Robotics course | Future Learn and Robot Mechanics and Control, Part I | edX

How Will You Make Yourself Invaluable?

While the thought of robots being able to do your job What Happens When Robots Can Do All the Jobs? What Happens When Robots Can Do All the Jobs? Robots are getting smarter fast -- what happens when they can do every job better and cheaper than human beings? Read More isn’t necessarily comforting, some of the skills on this list can help you remain a much-needed part of your company. And if you want to move on, many of the skills are transferable across fields.

At the end of the day, robots are pretty cool. But they aren’t people. They don’t share the human connection that we share with one another. So we’ll always need other humans to work with us and connect to us on professional levels.

Which of the skills above will you develop to make yourself indispensable? Tell us in the comments section below.

Image Credits: studiostoks/Shutterstock

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  1. John Connor
    April 12, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    What if robots enroll the courses? You shouldn't have shared the links.

  2. John Hollow
    April 4, 2017 at 2:29 am

    Great, what you are telling me is that I'm doomed. But you did forget a very valuable ninth skill that will keep us employed. Robotics and hardware sabotage. I've been practicing since i was a kid. Anything I took apart most couldn't put back together. Too many extra unknown parts.

  3. Mike C.
    April 3, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I guess the bigger point missed is that A.I. and current machine learning technology can place stock images in this article and write an article that appeals to the basic human traits (after cross-referencing search engine searches and other articles on the topic.) What, then makes the points above valid if they are written from a machine's point of data aggregation?

    The biggest skill one would need to have is to discern anything typed / written that is done from a human's PoV or a machine's PoDA.

  4. Barb
    April 3, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    Under #7 you state:
    "Psychologists hear patients diagnose mental problems and identify related distresses. "
    I highly doubt the psychologists listen to patients diagnosing themselves. You may consider inserting a comma after the word "patients".

    • Furious Styles
      April 5, 2017 at 1:22 am

      lol.

  5. Dallas
    April 3, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    That similar to what all the experts said in 2004 about how we would never have self driving cars. Innovation aims at impossibilities.

  6. KT
    March 31, 2017 at 1:33 am

    I guess I'm in #8. I can set up, program, operate, and perform maintenance on robots and CNC machines. I'm out of the industrial maintenance market now and doing a gravy CNC job. A lot less wear and tear on my body. Pay is not quite as good though. I saw the posts about construction, electrician, plumbing etc. All great examples as well, but there is an automated brick laying machine that needs 3 people to do the work of 8-10. The weld robots I worked on (we had 10) easily replaced 20 welders. We only needed 2 touch up welders.

  7. ralf
    March 30, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    They'll never be able to play chess at top level either, and never ever be able to win at Go, ever.
    Whoops............

    • Furious Styles
      April 5, 2017 at 1:24 am

      It's just bruteforce.

      Any human can try do that. The only problem is we can't try so many possible moves in a short given amount of time like computers do.

  8. Pete
    March 30, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    You missed all the basics. Carpenters, plumbers, Auto repair, Heavy Equipment operators. It would be hard to live without them.

  9. Sergey
    March 30, 2017 at 7:11 am

    As a translator, I've alsways feared that Google Translate would replace me, and now with the neural networks... looks like it's become worse than ever before...

  10. Me2
    March 30, 2017 at 1:19 am

    Let's not forget plumbers and electricians, and all of the arts.

  11. Me
    March 29, 2017 at 11:12 pm

    It is a shame most American grade and high schools teach a 'regurgitate facts' method rather than critical thinking skills.

    • Me2
      March 30, 2017 at 1:29 am

      Agreed, wholeheartedly.

    • FredThompson
      March 30, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      There is a lot of truth behind the idea that centralized public schooling created that situation. It is much easier to "teach to a test" than to "teach to think." Additionally, after WWII most large organizations in the US emulated the Army's organization methods. What works for "organized mobs in life-threatening situations" isn't productive in modern commercial situations. Schools were designed to reduce innovation and self-direction to turn people into organic machines for repetitive tasks. On the flip side, discipline and delayed gratification are sorely lacking in the younger generations who tend to assume anything can "just show up" within a couple of days. My generation (80s kids) were ridiculed for the "microwave mentality." That pales in comparison to find anything on the Internet and have it delivered within a couple of days. Back to schooling...children with "absentee" or "helicopter" parents, incessant exposure to electronic entertainment, and a paranoid "protective" society combined with the comparative ease of judging performance based on simple tests creates a people who would fit right into Harrison Bergeron's world. Time alone, reading (with reflective, not projected, light), being forced to find a solution themselves, the presence of failure - these are all aspects of mental development that are critical for people to be self-sufficient. They are also the opposite of what the education-industrial complex has pursued. This is a major reason so many people are against government-run schools. It's not that they object to consistent performance and results levels, they want to maximize accountability and have their children learn to think and take action, not become organic robots. Home schoolers, in general, do far, far better on standardized tests and are generally much more capable than same-aged public school kids. FWIW, I was public school all the way. Home schooling wasn't an option. It might not have even been legal.