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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, 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. 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
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 that get smarter through acquired feedback over time.
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
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
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 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
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.
5. Critical Thinking and Judgment Skills
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 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
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
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
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.
How Will You Make Yourself Invaluable?
While the thought of robots being able to do your job 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