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How do you reach your competency management objectives in the age of artificial intelligence? Hiring, developing, and retaining tech talent isn’t enough.

Earlier this month, LinkedIn released its third annual LinkedIn Emerging Jobs list, highlighting the fastest-growing jobs around the world. Not surprisingly, the top job is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Specialist – tasked with helping companies decide things like where and how to implement AI systems. (We are past the time when organizations need to decide “whether” to implement AI. Every company is embracing technology and AI, at some level).

In this AI Era, it’s evident that organizations will need employees with AI skills and competencies. But, beyond hiring, developing and retaining specialized tech talent, how do you reach your competency management objectives in the age of AI? Here are just a few considerations. 

Many Employees Will be FREED to do Higher Level Work

Over the next decade, AI will continue taking on more work-related tasks. Already, companies are applying AI to things like customer service, recruitment support, and software development. It is feared that AI will replace human workers. However, it’s more likely that AI will do what personal computers did for the workplace – improve human efficiency, support new ways of working and new work relationships, and free up employees to do the work that requires the thinking that computers can’t do.

In the case of AI, we still need people to handle tier-two support calls, monitor and counteract the bias that get introduced into an AI-driven recruitment process, and imagine new ways of harnessing technology to solve real-world problems. 

If you’re using a competency-based approach to job roles and responsibilities, now is a good time to update your job descriptions to emphasize the higher-level skills that only humans can learn.

Soft Skills are MORE Important in an AI World

The flip side of AI adoption and automation is the need for employees to master the soft skills required to do their jobs. AI can only take interactions with peers, project teams, and customers so far – essentially, not nearly far enough. Human-to-human relationships (still) form the foundation of successful businesses.

Interestingly, the LinkedIn Emerging Jobs list highlights hiring growth in customer-facing roles such as customer success specialist and sales development representatives. Guy Berger, the principal economist at LinkedIn, explains that roles such as these, “are heavily reliant on relationships, so being skilled in things like communication, problem-solving and collaboration are key.” He adds that for these jobs, companies “will rely on people skills that can’t be automated, successfully complementing new technologies.”

The importance of competence in the workplace doesn’t change in the AI era. It’s just that the skills and competencies needed for near-term and future success shift as your organization adopts AI. 

Competency Management is KEY to Optimizing AI 

IBM recently published a blog post, HR and Talent in the Era of AI, addressing the deployment of AI in human resources. The paper underscores the value of a high quality competency framework when adopting AI in HR. IBM puts it this way: “AI delivers most value when operating at a scale that would take too many humans too long to perform tasks. Competencies enable that scaling because they offer a standardized approach to determining the requirements for every new job.”

So, competencies naturally provide a standard way to talk about and manage skills, knowledge, behaviors, and experiences across the workforce. Starting with that as a base, it’s easy to understand which tasks to assign and which are left for humans. 

In short, when it comes to harnessing AI so your employees are freed to higher-level work, you’ll want to rethink your competency management objectives. Starting with job descriptions, and continuing through your recruitment, hiring, development and retention efforts, be very clear about which skills and competencies are most important for your workforce to develop. Then, you can assign more of your lower-level, repeatable tasks to AI apps. In this age of AI, it will take a smart human-technology partnership to position companies for long-term success.  


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