If you don’t want to be replaced by a robot at work, you may want to hone in your social skills.
As more jobs are lost to automation, social skills are increasingly playing a greater role in the labour market, according to recent working paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
In fact, almost all employment and wage growth since 1980 has been in occupations that require a combination of both strong cognitive abilities and social skills, according to David J. Deming, a research fellow at the NBER and the author of the paper entitled The Growing Importance of Social Skills in the Labour Market.
On the other hand, employment has decreased in occupations that require people to have more advanced maths skills, but lower social skill requirements, according to the research.
This suggests that being really smart simply doesn’t cut it anymore. In order for you to have job security in an increasingly automated world, you must be both smart and socially adept.
Why are social skills becoming such a crucial factor in determining the future labour market?
Put simply, it’s because humans are still better at dealing with other humans than computers.
As Deming notes in his paper:
“The reason is that computers are still very poor at simulating human interaction. Reading the minds of others and reacting is an unconscious process, and skill in social settings has evolved in humans over thousands of years. Human interaction in the workplace involves team production, with workers playing off of each other’s strengths and adapting flexibly to changing circumstances. Such nonroutine interaction is at the heart of the human advantage over machines.”