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how to get ahead in the age of AI

What skills will help non-technical staff to compete in a tech and artificial intelligence-driven job market? The answer might surprise you.

Does all the talk about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics in the workplace have you worried? Don’t be, rather keep in mind that changes to the way we work are nothing new. As the saying goes, history repeats itself. 

When the steam engine was introduced in factories, it began doing some of the jobs previously done by factory workers, for example. But it also introduced new jobs, such as technicians and mechanics. In the same way AI could assist people by taking away mundane tasks and giving them room to develop and excel in other areas.

As Francois Dempers, Capitec’s Manager of Innovation in the Business Development department, says, “We can enable humans to become superhumans by giving them AI-assisted tools.”

An example is freeing up the time of Capitec employees by removing repetitive tasks so that they can help clients on our app who need personal assistance.

Top skills to have by 2022

A 2018 McKinsey paper found that the demand for digital skills – not advanced technological skills – is on the rise. That means workers in human resources (HR), marketing, customer service and accounting don’t have to be able to code. What they should know, is how the relevant technology in their fields works and what it can do. Think of a designer who creates magic on an Apple Mac without knowing the first thing about its hardware.

According to World Economic Forum (WEF), the 10 in-demand skills to acquire by 2022 are:

  • critical thinking 
  • the ability to solve complex problems 
  • creativity  
  • people management 
  • coordinating with others 
  • emotional intelligence 
  • judgment and decision-making 
  • service orientation 
  • negotiation 
  • cognitive flexibility (the ability to put on different hats, depending on the job at hand)

The WEF’s prediction is backed by Mercedes-Benz’s experience after automating 90% of its E-Class factory. The robots couldn’t keep up with customer demand for customisation and personalisation. When the S-Class was introduced, the company’s head of production said that they have decided to combine “the advantages of Industry 4.0 methods with the expertise and cognitive skills of our employees”.

Expected skills shifts

Client center agents who currently take calls forwarded by an automated system should learn how to work with AI, chatbots and automated self-service technology. Whereas they now provide customers with information, take orders or deal with problems, collaborating with technology could give them a better understanding of customers’ needs to match them with the right products and services.

For an HR practitioner who finds, hires and on-boards new employees, and handles queries regarding company policy and salaries, the next step could be software that will streamline these processes and match skills to tasks and projects. 

As Alvin Toffler wrote back in the ’70s: “The illiterate of the future will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

Action your big goals

Start learning and relearning today to prepare yourself for that promotion or exciting new job. Everyone can benefit, whether you are starting out in HR and want to improve your negotiation skills, or are a marketing manager who wants to come to grips with digital marketing analytics. As a Capitec client you will get a 50% discount on all Educate24 online courses and save R4 000 on select GetSmarter courses when enrolling via Capitec’s dedicated GetSmarter page. Remember to pay with your Capitec card to qualify.


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