The robots are coming for our jobs but Deloitte's COO doesn't think it's that scary

The robots are coming for our jobs.

As reported by Business Insider’s Elena Holodny, 47% of total US employment is at high risk of automation in the next ten to twenty years, according to an Oxford report.

To be sure, that doesn’t mean that those jobs will definitely be automated.

A top executive at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, or Deloitte as it is commonly called, thinks the coming wave of automation is not something people should fear.

Frank Friedman is the global chief operating officer of the 172-year-old financial firm known for its audit and consulting services. In his capacity as COO, he oversees the network’s operational leaders, helping them execute the firm’s vision and strategy throughout its various divisions worldwide.

In a wide-ranging interview with Business Insider, he said the rise of automation and technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning will lead to other jobs in new fields. He cited the firm’s 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report, which surveyed more than 10,000 business and human resource leaders. The firm found that only 20% of those surveyed believed digitalization will translate into less jobs overall.

“More than three quarters of the companies surveyed said they either will retrain people to use technology or will redesign jobs to take better advantage of human skills,” Friedman said.

Friedman said this means people in the younger generations are going to have to focus more on social and creative skills, as well as technical skills, in order to secure one of the jobs of the future.

Here’s the relevant passage from the interview:

Markets Insider: Can you expand on what you see as the future of the workforce at Deloitte? What skills would be needed for the workplace as technology continues to evolve?

Frank Friedman: Today’s conversations tend to focus heavily on the degree to which robots may take the place of humans, which can be a scary thought for a lot of people. But, with that said, it is important to recognise that robots will also create new types of jobs. According to our recent Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report, the entire workplace is being reinvented as the use of robotics and AI increases. But even with this transformation, only 20% of survey respondents felt that future of work scenarios will reduce the number of jobs. More than three quarters of the companies surveyed said they either will retrain people to use technology or will redesign jobs to take better advantage of human skills.

With the increasing use of technology, we will of course need STEM skills, but we will also need people skilled in softer areas like critical thinking, creativity, selling and relationship building. The ability to lead, strategize and inspire people to follow you and bring your vision to life will also become more important.

I see younger generations in the workforce increasingly place a premium on these softer skills as they work together in teams, allowing them to build relationships with those around them through social activities. Ultimately, they’re devoting themselves to a purpose sometimes greater than just their paychecks.

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