AI is the simulation of intelligence, distinct from sentience or
AI already has deep roots in our daily lives. A March 2018 spe-cial
report by The Economist confirms that organizations across
all types of industries are already “harnessing AI to do things like
forecast demand, hire workers and deal with customers. In 2017,
companies spent around $22 billion on AI-related mergers and
acquisitions, about 26 times more than in 2015.”
AI is embedded into the workplace with collaboration tools
like Slack, which helps employees communicate – and it also pro-vides
data that helps managers learn how fast staff actually achieve
milestones. Other AI software measures productivity, teamwork,
professional interactions, deviations in expense claims and even
improves hiring practices.
The GBC 7 builds on the essential skills identified by the min-istry
with input from employers. They are:
■■ Responsibility and work ethic
■■ Teamwork and citizenship
■■ Customer service
■■ Problem solving
■■ Flexibility and resilience
■■ Initiative and perseverance
“Trade skills such as numeracy, STEM, science and math are
important for the future, but in order to be successful, our stu-dents
have to go to the next level and that means human skills.
This is how you differentiate yourself,” said Dario Guescini, direc-tor
of Work Integrated Learning at George Brown College. “At the
end of the day, we don’t know what machines will be able to do.
What we know today is that workplaces will need people skills
from a judgment and empathy perspective. It’s very difficult for AI
to bring empathy to the table.”
CREATING THE SHIFT RIGHT NOW
Cheryl Fullerton, EVP, people and communications at Corus
Entertainment, says the rise of AI and the changing face of the
workplace is not news to most HR leaders. In recent years, HR
executives (and executives in general) have been talking a lot about
the future of work. With machine learning and AI, we know we’ll
have different kinds of jobs and will need different types of people.
Skills won’t be about memorization, knowing facts or rote work. It
will focus on more human elements of work, like critical thinking,
judgement, relationship building and creativity.
“But the organizations we operate in today aren’t even close to
shifting to embrace that mindset. Our infrastructures are very tied
to old economy thinking. We all need to start shifting to the new
economy now,” said Fullerton.
She believes hiring criteria needs to shift to increase the value
of “human” skills and learning agility that employees bring to
“We should be hiring for capability and flexible thinking and
problem-solving skills, and yet there’s still a barrier today to get-ting
hired if you haven’t put in a number of years or completed a
number of tasks in a very similar role or business area,” she said.
Bringing in talent from other industries or specializations may
serve as a counterbalance to business processes that have been
built over decades of tried and true best practices. Fullerton con-tends
that there’s still a place for experienced and knowledgeable
long-time staff in workplaces of the future – but they have to be
balanced by disruptors.
“We need a heavy dose of people who don’t have any assump-tions
about ‘the right way’ to get things done,” she said. “That’s why
retail is being disrupted the way it is. Customers don’t need to
squeeze the Charmin; they can have it delivered to their homes.
In manufacturing, machines can do a lot of the work previously
done by people.”
She argues that recent advances made in these and other sectors
are the work of leaders and employees with strong human skills.
lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo
“WHAT WE KNOW TODAY IS THAT
WORKPLACES WILL NEED PEOPLE
SKILLS FROM A JUDGMENT AND
EMPATHY PERSPECTIVE. IT’S
VERY DIFFICULT FOR AI TO BRING
EMPATHY TO THE TABLE.”
– DARIO GUESCINI
PREPARING FOR THE WORKPLACE OF THE FUTURE
Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development
has outlined Essential Employability Skills that must be demon-strated
to achieve a college-level diploma – regardless of the field
of study – including communication, critical thinking and inter-personal
George Brown College in Toronto is focusing on these skills
within the curriculum of each of its diploma programs. The
GBC 7, a research study conducted by the college, asked 1,000
employers about the skills that make an employee stand out.
“While technical skills are key to getting the job done right,
employers told us they value people skills just as much. We call
these key people skills the GBC 7.”
Continued on page 24
22 ❚ JUNE 2018 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL