5 key soft skills to thrive in an age of technology and digitalisation

July 30, 2018

The softer side of automation: A guide for companies and candidates

Technological innovation does not just require technical skills. Energy professionals should continuously develop their soft skills to thrive in the age of automation.

In today’s energy landscape, the sentiment towards automation could be perceived in a number of ways. But according to the 2018 Global Energy Talent Index, the overwhelming sentiment is a positive one. In fact, 77% of oil and gas professionals agree.

This indicates a sector priming itself for change. But how can companies and candidates ensure they don’t get left behind? Here are our top 5 soft skills you will need in order to thrive in the age of automation.

5 soft skills essential in the age of automation - Airswift

1. Problem solving

It’s no secret that automation greatly speeds up lengthier procedures. To truly benefit, you have to know how this fits into the wider issues you’re trying to solve.

Take data analytics for example. Automation handles the manual task of preparing raw data but it’s understanding and communicating the insights that improve productivity.

In the age of automation, the value simply doesn’t lie in the data you collect. It’s in the way you use it to achieve your end goal. For the energy sector, the onus is now on developing problem-solving strategies to help companies tackle these issues.

2. Adaptability

The tides are most certainly changing and it’s those that show a willingness to adapt that will thrive. New technologies will require continuous learning. For businesses, there must be an active attempt to identify those in highest demand and implement relevant training procedures around them.

Equally, 63% of oil and gas professionals view training and development opportunities as the best way to attract talent. This highlights the added incentive for businesses to be proactive in this area.

For candidates, it’s also worth noting that you don’t have to become a top data scientist or cyber-security expert overnight. However, it definitely helps to maintain an understanding of how these topics can affect your role so you can stay ahead of the curve.

3. Intuition and logic

A machine can better perform repeatable, rote tasks. But what happens when something goes wrong? Where thinking on the fly is needed, humans still have the upper hand.

Just as a pilot’s main role is to monitor the autopilot, they’re still needed to step in if there’s a problem. Then there’s the benefit of retaining rare expertise and experience, and the fact that sometimes it’s more cost effective to augment a human role with robots than completely automate it.

It’s more often specific tasks rather than entire jobs that are automated. Robots need a human touch.

4. Communication

Communication is fundamental to the smooth running of a project and even more key when things don’t go to plan.

Take the automotive sector as an example that has automated its manufacturing processes for years. Different production stages are broken down into smaller, repeatable tasks. However, errors can still occur. If staff fail to flag these issues to each other, they slip through the cracks and lead to problems in the final product.

For the oil and gas sector, AI does a great job in speeding up processes. But with so many moving parts on a given project, all team members need to keep each other updated in order for it to function smoothly.

5. Leadership

According to the Harvard Business Review, almost 50 years of meta-analytic studies regard emotional characteristics twice as important as IQ to be an effective leader. These characteristics include emotional stability, extroversion and curiosity.

This shows it’s in the very most human aspects of our characters that we possess the capacity to lead. Machines can compute faster than the human mind, but can they read a situation and know the right words to motivate a team? These softer characteristics go a long way towards separating man from machine.

Ultimately, from efficiency to safety, automation enables a great number of benefits to the energy workforce. At times, these changes can seem destabilising – but it’s through the engagement of social and emotional factors that companies and candidates can ensure they do not just survive in the automation age, but lead it.


This post was written by: Sara Howren, US Recruitment Director – Contract Hire at Airswift