Soft Skills Becoming Increasingly Critical For Engineers


 By Ambrish Sinha, CEO, MeritTrac Services


As the Fourth Industrial Revolution matures, the nature of jobs and skills required is undergoing a massive transition. Automation is one of the most important aspects of this shift, especially as every company streamlines its focus on increasing efficiency and optimizing operations across levels.


According to a recent survey conducted by a risk management advisory, an increase in the adoption of automation from 14 percent to 27 percent by Indian firms in the next three years is imminent. This is a clear indication that the future workforce needs to be equipped with skills that can adapt and embrace automation.


A recent LinkedIn report states that possessing skills such as creativity, problem-solving, adaptability, critical thinking and communication skills can aid individuals in adapting to the changes that machines bring to job roles. The same report points out that 89 percent of Asia Pacific executives find it difficult to find professionals who possess soft skills, especially across STEM-based technical roles.


While automation is largely an untapped market, there are still large developments happening on a day to day basis with companies recognizing that the incoming workforce needs to be agile and adaptable to future changes. Technological transformations can largely alter the production and efficiency of the workforce. This progressive change affects the workforce and creates friction amongst them if they are unable to adapt to the changes.


Skills such as creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities enable employees to circumvent the barriers, preventing the smooth adoption of technology. This allows them to come up with unique solutions to modern-age problems. Critical thinking and problem-solving go together as they allow individuals to scrutinize and analyse every minute in detail. This allows for an organized and detailed solution that arises from design thinking.


When the problem and solution are both new to both the organization as well as the employee, there is no set framework to work across. In such situations, communication abilities play a crucial role in communicating the problems to higher authorities or peers.


Currently, the engineering courses in the country are rigorous in boosting theoretical and technical knowledge and focus primarily on enabling students to just get their first job. It becomes important that the pedagogy is re-aligned to the industry needs. To empower students’ to be  “first-day-first-hour ready” professionals, the curriculum must include courses to inculcate key soft skills to create the ability in every graduate to face the challenges that automation is set to bring. The curriculum needs to be wholesome and must look at building a career foundation and not just to ensure students are placed.


As technological disruptions are increasingly recurrent, it can be an arduous task for engineering institutes to keep up with the pace. While industry-academia collaborations can enhance their knowledge andenable them to stay updated with the latest technology, such methodologies will not be able to prepare these graduates to face the variance that automation brings in the future. While no one can predict to what degree can automation change the future, these skills are the best bet that young graduates can possess to change the course of the global economy.


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