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In the face of technological disruption, “human skills" are the most in-demand in today's workforce.

This is what you’ll hear whether you ask a third generation winery, the country’s largest home care provider, or an entrepreneurial program within a university – and we did just that.

Canada is currently facing a ‘quiet crisis’, with half of all jobs being disrupted by technology and automation in the next decade. In a recent year-long study, conducted by RBC, our team crisscrossed the country to speak with a wide range of students and youth in their early careers, employers in virtually every sector, as well as educators and policymakers.

We found that recent grads are overqualified for the jobs they have now, and youth are unemployed without the skills needed for the jobs currently out there.

“We have to prepare youth for the future, from a skills perspective, and from an inclusion perspective,” said RBC President & CEO Dave McKay.

McKay kicked off the last RBCDisruptors, our regular forum on innovation and how it’s changing the world around us. The event was organized in part to celebrate RBC Future Launch, a $500-million commitment over 10-years to prepare young Canadians for the jobs of tomorrow.

We also welcomed three dynamic employee/employer pairs that told us how they are preparing for, and adapting to the future of work in their respective industries. Here’s some of what we learned:

We have to prepare youth for the future, from a skills perspective, and from an inclusion perspective.

RBC President & CEO Dave McKay

Technology Doesn’t Replace People

When it comes to automation changing the nature of (some) jobs, technology should be embraced and not feared. There are many things machines can’t do, such as communication, critical thinking, complex problem solving and social perceptiveness.

“Technology is not a job stealing, it’s job enhancing – it’s freeing up your time to use your human skills to devise new processes, and create community that can’t be done via technology,” said Thirty Bench winemaker Emma Gardner, who was joined by John Peller, CEO of Peller Estates. The winery is using innovative technologies such as drones and heat maps, empowering the winemakers and producing better wine.

Gardner uses her smartphone to track and harvest important data from their precious vineyards, such as wind speed, water saturation and vine health.

“We are overwhelmed with data and it’s helping us be smarter and make decisions more quickly,” said Peller.

He points out that machines don’t make wine, they help people make better wine.

Always Embrace Learning

One question Peller asks his employees is, “are you learning as fast as this world is changing?” He believes in creating a culture of learning and growing as a team.

This means more co-op placements with local post-secondary institutions, team collaboration, communication and leadership development. “Drawing all those things together is what will keep a company successful in the future,” he said.

At Guelph University’s Arrell Food Institute, students learn entrepreneurship first-hand by building businesses from scratch, and gain workplace relevant, team-based, training experience that cannot be taught in the classroom. “It’s an experimental space, and gives people the full skills portfolio of what they need in the workforce,” said Evan Fraser, the Institute’s director.

Leah Blechscmidt, a Masters Candidate and one of the student entrepreneurs at Arrell, is a firm believer that everyone should take marketing and business classes to further develop their communication skills, to sell their ideas. “It’s definitely an extension of our studies, as it gives us the opportunity to really apply the skills we’ve learned and develop new ones we wouldn’t otherwise have – it’s not every day you get the opportunity to start a business,” she said.

Focus on Communication

“All business is a human sport,” said Peller.

Arrell Food Institute students work in inter-disciplinary teams, gaining valuable interpersonal, critical thinking and project management skills.

The caregivers at Saint Elizabeth, which has a 9,000-strong workforce, act as coaches rather than directors into their patients’ health. Nurses used to be the main holders of information, informing patients on their conditions. Nowadays, information is easily found online.

“We’re not telling anybody about their disease – we’re sometimes translating it and interpreting it for them. We’re certainly not providing care to people, we’re providing together care, in a partnership,” said Shirlee Sharkey, CEO of Saint Elizabeth.

“I’m not just a nurse, I’m a caregiver, a shoulder to lean on and a social worker,” said Felicia Kontopidis, a registered nurse with Saint Elizabeth.

Credentials Aren’t Enough

It used to be that credentials alone were enough to land you that dream job, but not anymore.

“I now look at credentials as the minimum requirement,” said Sharkey.

When hiring, Saint Elizabeth looks for comfort to work independently, the ability to multitask and incredible organizational skills.

“We’re bringing in and testing for those competencies well above and beyond credentials. We need to create the future and future proof the organization and our talent – or else we’re going to have a huge wake up call,” she said.

To hear more from our three sets of guests, subscribe and listen to our new episodes of the RBCDisruptors podcast, available on Soundcloud and iTunes. To stay informed on upcoming events, register for the RBCDisruptors mailing list.