How to upskill amidst automation

The age of automation is transforming industries at an unprecedented pace. A recent global report by Blue Prism, “Automate or Stagnate: The Impact of Intelligent Automation on the Future of Work,” surveyed nearly 5,000 business decision makers and knowledge workers, revealing that the majority (83%) are comfortable with reskilling to work alongside a digital workforce. Furthermore, 78% of knowledge workers are ready to take on new job roles. This readiness contradicts the common belief that employees fear job loss due to automation; only 37% of knowledge workers share this concern.

Automation enhances efficiency and productivity, with sectors like tech, finance, and healthcare experiencing significant benefits. According to the International Federation of Robots, automated jobs increase by 14% annually. While this growth brings new opportunities, it also poses the challenge of job displacement. Professionals must adapt and upskill to remain relevant in this evolving landscape.

Automation drives production to new heights, making it essential for professionals to keep up with its pace. For example, industries that heavily rely on data, like finance and healthcare, see the integration of AI and machine learning to streamline operations. This shift necessitates a workforce adept at navigating new technologies and processes.

The Irreplaceable Value of Human Skills

Despite the rise of automation, certain human skills remain irreplaceable. Creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and interpersonal relationship management are crucial in an automated world. These skills, which machines cannot replicate, are becoming increasingly valued. Moreover, automation integrates deeply with software tools already used by professionals, enhancing workflows and allowing humans to focus on more strategic tasks.

For instance, while machines can process vast amounts of data and perform repetitive tasks, they lack the ability to engage in nuanced human interactions or generate innovative ideas. These human-centric skills are essential for roles that involve leadership, team collaboration, and creative problem-solving.

Soft Skills: The Silent Game-Changers

Soft skills, such as communication, problem-solving, adaptability, and leadership, are now as significant as technical skills. In our recent salary guide, these skills emerged as critical for cross-functional and interdisciplinary roles. Developing these soft skills provides a competitive edge in the job market, where they are in high demand but short supply.

In a workplace increasingly defined by cross-functional teams, the ability to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts is invaluable. Moreover, as automation takes over routine tasks, employees with strong leadership skills can guide their teams through transitions and ensure smooth integration of new technologies.

Embracing Continuous Learning

Lifelong learning is essential in the modern workforce. Gone are the days of relying on a single skill set for an entire career. Continuous upskilling is now the norm. Embracing automation allows professionals to focus on strategic initiatives. A Zapier study found that 90% of knowledge workers believe automation has improved their workplace lives. Investing in technical proficiency, such as data analytics, machine learning, cybersecurity, and digital content creation, can set professionals apart in the competitive job market.

In a rapidly changing job landscape, staying updated with the latest technologies and methodologies is crucial. Professionals must be proactive in seeking out new learning opportunities, whether through formal education, online courses, or on-the-job training.

The Digital Age of Learning

Upskilling has never been more accessible. Online platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning offer numerous courses for enhancing both soft and technical skills. These platforms provide the flexibility to learn at one’s pace from industry experts. Employers also recognize the need for professional development, incorporating it into compensation packages. Job ads mentioning career or professional development increased by 110% from 2022 to 2023.

These platforms offer a range of courses, from beginner to advanced levels, covering a multitude of disciplines. This accessibility ensures that professionals at any stage of their career can find relevant learning resources.

The Power of Networking and Mentorship

In the Age of Automation, networking and mentorship are crucial. Engaging with industry peers offers insights into emerging trends and market shifts. Mentorship provides guidance in navigating the changing professional landscape. Particularly in a digital world with increasing remote work, having a mentor can be invaluable for early-career professionals.

Networking can be done through industry conferences, online forums, and professional associations. These interactions provide opportunities to learn from others’ experiences, share knowledge, and stay informed about industry developments.

How Talent Specialists Can Give You an Edge

Talent specialists, such as recruiters and staffing agencies, are not just gatekeepers but also invaluable guides. They provide insights into industry demands and emerging roles. Partnering with a talent specialist can help leverage your skills effectively in an automated world.

These specialists have a deep understanding of the job market and can provide personalized advice on how to navigate your career path, identify growth opportunities, and position yourself for success.

Steps to Upskill and Thrive in the Age of Automation

  • Understand the Impact of Automation: Research how automation is affecting your industry. Identify at-risk job roles and new opportunities. Stay updated with the latest developments in your field. Understand how automation is being implemented and which areas are most affected.
  • Identify Key Skills: Determine the technical and soft skills needed for future roles, such as coding, data analysis, critical thinking, and creativity. Make a list of skills required for roles you aspire to. Identify any gaps in your current skill set and prioritize learning these new skills.
  • Engage in Continuous Learning: Enroll in courses, attend workshops, and obtain certifications. Use platforms like Coursera and Udemy. Create a personal development plan outlining the courses and certifications you need to pursue.
  • Embrace Technology: Familiarize yourself with new tools and software in your industry. Experiment with new technologies and tools. Understanding their functionalities can give you an edge in your current role.
  • Develop a Growth Mindset: Believe that abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Embrace challenges and persist in the face of setbacks. Engage in activities that promote a growth mindset, such as mindfulness exercises and resilience training.
  • Network with Industry Experts: Attend conferences, join online forums, and participate in webinars to gain insights from experts. Establish connections with professionals in your field. These relationships can provide mentorship and career opportunities.
  • Seek Mentorship: Find a mentor to guide you through the complexities of the automated world. Participate in formal mentorship programs or reach out to experienced colleagues for guidance.
  • Practice Adaptability: Be open to new ideas and willing to change directions when necessary. Engage in activities that enhance your ability to adapt, such as problem-solving challenges and role-playing scenarios.
  • Stay Updated: Regularly read industry news and research papers to stay informed about the latest developments. Subscribe to industry journals, newsletters, and follow thought leaders on social media.
  • Invest in Personal Development: Enhance your communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence skills. Attend workshops and seminars that focus on developing personal skills that complement your professional abilities.

Embracing Change

Change can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be hard. Over three-quarters of business decision makers (76%) are actively incorporating the digital workforce into daily practices, encouraging human employees to engage with technology. Knowledge workers also recognize the importance of acquiring new skills, with 78% believing it is essential to remain employable.


As automation reshapes industries, the ability to adapt and upskill is crucial for professionals to thrive. By understanding automation’s impact, identifying key skills, engaging in continuous learning, and embracing a growth mindset, professionals can navigate the changes and seize new opportunities in the automated future.