As digital technologies transform work and machines begin to take over more previously human tasks, an interesting phenomenon is emerging—we are experiencing a human skills surge. At the juncture where human and machine skills meet, missing middle skills are needed and these skills are surprisingly uniquely human.

Let’s take a look at how and why this change is occurring, and what these ‘missing middle’ skills look like.

Into the Experience Era

As we leave the Information Era, when machines delivered data that improved processes and products, we are entering the Experience Era, in which uniquely human skills will deliver more personalised and adaptive customer experiences.

Where the Information Era required legions of smart engineers to build software, networks and algorithms, the Experience Era will need people with social and leadership abilities who can improvise and show good judgment—e.g., who can train AI systems (such as chatbots) and make sense of the data generated by AI.

To understand the human skills surge that is occurring, Accenture reviewed US Department of Labour occupational data, analysing the evolution of more than 100 abilities, skills, tasks and working styles in the US over the last decade. We found that creativity, complex reasoning and socio-emotional intelligence have sharply increased in importance for many jobs.

Specifically, more than half of US jobs need higher-level creativity, over 45 percent require more complex reasoning, and 35 percent need more socio-emotional skills than in the past. The relative importance of physical, operational and simple analytical skills has waned, even in job profiles focused on physical strengths and machine operation.

Similar results were seen in a global financial services cut of occupational data.

These are the ‘missing middle’ skills insurers need to build.

How can they be acquired?

Join me next week as I dissect ‘fusion skills’—abilities for combining the relative strengths of a human and a machine to create a better outcome than either could achieve alone—and look at how they can guide managers and workers in designing and developing a workforce capable of thriving in the ‘missing middle’.

Meantime, click through to Accenture’s research for more on the impact of AI on the workforce and the skills needed to thrive in a digital era.

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