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What_New_Skills_Do_HR_Business_Partners_Need_to_Develop_to_Be_More_Relevant_in_the_AI_WorldIt’s no secret artificial intelligence (AI) is on the rise in many businesses. As machine learning and other key components continue to evolve, AI is improving almost daily. Many industries have already taken notice of the trend, and they’re beginning to adopt AI into their everyday practices.

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Human resources is no exception to this trend. Although many HR professionals and those in the business feel underprepared for the advent of AI and automation, the truth is AI is already here.

As the world increasingly embraces AI for HR departments, questions about the kinds of skills needed in the HR department continue to rise. HR business partners should think about developing these skills to be more relevant.

Data Skills

AI functions by crunching huge amounts of data. The mass amounts of data needed for machines to learn, for example, has really only become available in the last few years. “Big Data” does more than power your business decisions. It can be used to power machine learning and predictive analysis.

The need for a human touch hasn’t been lost. Machines are much better at crunching data, finding patterns, and even making predictions based on the data. What they’re not so great as is interpreting the meaning of the numbers or telling stories with it.

Data storytelling is one data skill HR business partners should be focusing on. Analytical experts will also be needed to tell you exactly what data means. They can then help you devise strategic recommendations to propel the business forward.

The Soft Skills

As machines take over repetitive jobs, such as data entry and complex calculations, HR business partners should focus more on developing soft skills.

What are soft skills? “Soft” skills include things such as teamwork, leadership, communication, and negotiation. Compared to hard skills, they’re less specific to a job and more broadly applicable.

Why is there so much focus on soft skills? Essentially, these are human functions. You might also call them “people skills.” AI hasn’t progressed to the stage where it can negotiate a contract or motivate your team to work together more efficiently. People are needed to execute these functions.

Learning and Development

Every employee, both inside the HR department and outside of it, should develop learning as a skill. In the past, people went to school, learned a skill set, and then went to work in a job that used those skills. They often did this until they retired.

The world of work has changed, and it continues to evolve. You don’t need to look any further than the current AI revolution to see this is true. As technology continues to evolve, it will both replace and create jobs. People must be ready and willing to learn. In fact, they should demand lifelong learning.

HR business partners should be prepared to support this by focusing on both learning and teaching skills. HR staff members should want to learn themselves, but they should also be ready to guide their fellow employees.

Digital Skills

Although AI can be deployed in HR and can help automate tasks, the fact of the matter is humans are still interfacing with AI at this point. People are required to program and fix AI, while others need to operate the machines and deploy the AI tools appropriately.

Digital skills are still very necessary for HR business partners. In fact, digital skills are useful throughout the entire business. Although digital skills have been on everyone’s mind for some time now, they continue to change and evolve.

As AI improves, there’s no doubt the necessary skills for HR business partners will continue to change as well. A desire to continue learning and growing will ensure HR leaders remain relevant even in the AI future.


Kathy Ciccolini

Kathy Ciccolini

Kathy Ciccolini has over 15 years of human resources, leadership, and adjudication practice and experience. She worked in financial services and the public sector for the majority of her career. Her expertise is employee relations, policy, and legislation with a passionate belief that every workplace can and should be a great place to work. She has an MBA from the Schulich School of Business and Advanced Certificates in Alternative Dispute Resolution. She has an active family of three teenaged children, a husband, and a dog, and she loves to read, cook, and entertain in her home with family and friends.