Reducing the actions of today’s successful professionals (doctors, lawyers, consultants, etc.) to their basic structures, we see a similar pattern of sophisticated skills to gather and analyze data, interpret data for meaning, and create and implement a plan to act. However, with shocking rapidity, these sophisticated or “higher order” skills are quickly becoming the province of smart machines. When these highly regarded skills are mechanized, what will be the new highly valued, higher order skills for humans? (Related thoughts here.)

Consider this. In the time it might take for a doctor to reach for her prescription pad, a device powered by artificial intelligence might gather and analyze thousands of possibilities to diagnose an unusual illness and identify a course of treatment for implementation. But in this context, it remains true that only a human can respond to the complex emotional needs of a person hearing a devastating diagnosis and consider the entire fabric of the person’s life context to determine the best possible treatment.

In this scenario and many like them, we will need humans to understand, motivate, and engage with others to act on the analysis provided by technology. In a sudden turn-about, today’s higher order skills are now those that were once relegated to a significantly lesser status, and identified with such ill-fitting descriptions as non-cogs and soft skills (Andy Calkin’s insightful discussion).

When speaking about a future driven by artificial intelligence, Prof. John Halliwell at the recent World Government Summit, agreed and shared a concern,

“We don’t need everyone to be a data scientist. Most people will work to improve the lives of others. The problem is we aren’t very good at that. We will have to retool education.”

Evidence supports Halliwell’s assertion. For instance, medical residents routinely struggle with the most basic of “bedside manner” interactions even though research indicates that courteous bedside manners improve medical recovery along with patient satisfaction. The concern isn’t limited to doctors. When reflecting on digital life today, MIT researcher and best-selling author Sherry Turkle reports, “…digitized friendships – played out with emoticon emotions, so often predicated on rapid response rather than reflection – may prepare them, at times through nothing more than their superficiality, for relationships…”

If we take to heart the list of skills including people management; coordinating with others; emotional intelligence; judgment; decision-making; and service orientation that will be needed by 2020, according to the World Economic Forum, it is clear we have a new skills gap.

Amidst a never-ending sea of demands and a culture that frequently pushes us in the opposite direction, we simply must make it a priority to help learners develop social and emotional learning competencies.

For these reasons, Mayerson Academy is committed to helping leaders and learners integrate strengths-based, research-supported and validated solutions that will address this skills gap. Collaborating with innovative leaders, we are re-creating school cultures to elevate what is best in every individual while building the capacity to know and manage self and effectively understand and relate to others. In doing so, we are impacting engagement, learning, and performance AND at the same time, closing the new skills gap.

Up next: Training Won’t Lead to Transformation