One Essential Skill to Mitigate All Skill Gaps

There is a lot of talk about wide-scale skill gaps and learning deficits that need to be addressed in order to improve employability. However, most of the discussion and remedial measures focus on the development of technological skills. While tech skills are absolutely necessary, another factor that needs to be remembered is that a key aspect of working in an organization revolves around interpersonal skills and the agility to work in a team. These are the core, intrinsic skills that our education systems are failing to inculcate in a world that is becoming more and more polarized and self-serving.

While the tech wave has liberated us from the need to engage in mundane tasks that require low cognitive input,  it has also brought in its wake a great deal of isolation. Our personal devices and self-paced learning applications have removed the need to interact with peers, trainers, and guides to the extent that we are slowly losing grasp over skills that are otherwise intrinsic to human nature.

Aristotle famously describes, ‘man as a social animal’, drawing attention to human beings’ characteristic need to work with, and in relation to others. I believe the greatest disruption of technology is not in swallowing up our jobs but rather in making us islands unto ourselves! The increasing dependence on technology is detrimental to human growth as it is taking us away from the skills of discussion, argumentation, and collaboration to arrive at solutions that expand the boundaries of existing knowledge to create something new. With the rapidly changing times and the onset of extremely eerie and mind-boggling AI technologies such as ChatGPT, it is absolutely essential for institutions to re-cultivate the human connection that arises from interaction with one’s peers, colleagues, guides, trainers, educationists, and leaders.

The development of interpersonal skills, especially communication and team-working capabilities is the only way we can hold our own in the face of increasingly intelligent and continuously evolving AI-based technologies. New-age technologies have developed the capabilities to provide us with all the information we need about anything under the sun, but it is up to us to process that information based on need, understanding, and our unique experiential learning to derive distinct insights. Education must thus focus on building an environment that encourages teamwork, collaboration, and experiential learning to maintain our mastery over technology.

Interpersonal skills will thus become increasingly important in the face of disruptive technologies as they will allow individuals to differentiate themselves and add value in a way that cannot be replicated by technology. Human beings can continue to take the lead over technology by leveraging their unique capabilities of empathy, collaboration, and adaptability to enhance human interactions to deliver good leadership, better customer service, and matchless conflict resolution. Enhancing interpersonal skills and regaining lost ground with respect to human interaction is the key to winning the game against technology for failure to do so will lead to disastrous consequences as articulated by Albert Einstein, “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

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