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The Human Skills Robots Can’t Do

Robot waiter in restaurant

Report after report shows that more and more jobs are at risk of automation – if they haven’t already been automated that is. But a robot rendering you redundant isn’t inevitable. Here we look at the skills that can robot-proof your career and could even help you get a pay rise.  


Robots will replace one-third of all UK jobs in the next 20 years – that’s more than 10 million jobs.

The worst hit sectors will be retail, hospitality, transport and manufacturing – where five million roles could disappear for a workforce which does not have “a degree-level qualification and may lack adaptability”.

Meanwhile, Adzuna’s own research has shown that automation is already the cause of a decline in jobs.

Yet, some experts believe there are five highly human abilities that robot workers will never be able to master and these five core skills could future-proof your career. Here’s how:

The Human Skills Robots Can’t Do:

  1. Feeling: Demonstrate your empathy and intuition
  2. Seeing: Understand the context and see the bigger picture
  3. Dreaming and…
  4. Making: Use your imagination to get creative and develop something new
  5. Learning: Embrace technology to future-proof your career

Feeling: Demonstrate your empathy and intuition

While the NHS has been introducing robots workers to the front line, research reveals 30% of nurses’ activities could be automated, and a similar proportion for doctors in some specialities.

The obvious advantage for real, live workers is the human touch. Speaking to the i paper, Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said: “Whatever happens, the GP-patient relationship is unique in medicine and there is no app, algorithm or technological innovation that can, or will, replace it in the foreseeable future.”

This is true in any role. It is important to for you to develop your soft skills because robots cannot build relationships, empathise or show other forms of emotional intelligence to create personal connections with customers and colleagues.

These skills can be improved through training courses, or just going the extra mile for your colleagues and customers during the day-to-day.

close up of doctor's pocket

Seeing: Understand the context and see the bigger picture

Current artificial intelligence is very good at solving one problem, but not very good at tackling a range of problems. For example, IBM’s Deep Blue machine may be able to beat a chess grandmaster – but it’d suck at Scrabble.

Humans can multitask. For example, a nurse can view a person as a whole, not just focus on one symptom. They understand the intricacies and dependencies of the human body – and can correctly diagnose an illness that a robot worker may miss as it is too focused on one specific ailment.

Diversifying your skills set can help you to optimise your multitasking abilities. “The best response [to automation] is to increase the skills of the labour force,” according to Gregory Mankiw, an economist at Harvard speaking to the NY Times.

You may even want to consider going back to school as a growing number of jobs require a degree – and unemployment rates are more than double for non-graduates (5.9%) compared to graduates (2.9%), research reveals.

camera lens held in front of a mountain range and lake

Dreaming and making: Use your imagination to get creative and develop something new

Curiosity and creativity are developable human traits that robots struggle to embrace. You don’t need to come up with the next Uber or Mona Lisa – but you can bring creativity and innovation to the table at work in a range of ways, for example, you could identify bottlenecks, take risks and participate whenever you can.

You could also build a personal brand to differentiate yourself and show your skill set. Try participating in industry-specific websites where workers can express their ideas on related issues and attend seminars both internally and externally to network, expand your mind and give you a new perspective.These ideas may be applicable to your current role, or introduce you to a new concept and career entirely.

These ideas may be applicable to your current role, or introduce you to a new concept and career entirely.

Chalkboard picture of a thought cloud with lightbulb

Learning: Embrace technology to future-proof your career

If you understand technology, then you will be prepared for the changes it will bring to your career. You may want to study programming to help you understand how technology works, or learn to provide human support for the machines.

For example, human delivery and taxi drivers could help self-driving vehicles to handle trip-related emergencies with the proper training.

Your learning should not be limited to technology. You must constantly reskill and upskill to stay relevant in the workplace because, the truth is, no one really knows the impact robot workers will have on your job. You need to make sure you’re adaptable to fully robot-proof your career.

embrace technology

If you want to take control of your career why not start by finding out how much you’re worth with ValueMyCV before checking out the 1 million+ jobs on offer at Adzuna?

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