It has been assumed that workers will have to be trained in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing to survive in the future job market. But, according to Livia Gershon in a fascinating essay on Aeon.co, "The Key to Jobs in the Future Is Not College but Compassion," only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering. The linchpin jobs of the future will require emotional skills, whether working with customers or collaborating with corporate teams on various projects.
The sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild coined the term "emotional labor" in 1983 to describe the processes involved in managing the emotional demands of work. Daniel Goleman author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence notes that life goes much more smoothly if you are emotionally responsive, adaptive, flexible, and resilient. Today police departments are realizing that skills in mediating disputes and helping to build and sustain communities must be emphasized along with weapons use and defense tactics. In the growing arenas of medicine and health care, the need for workers with the gift of empathy and a knack for making others feel at ease is needed now more than ever.
More than 5 million Americans are now people working in direct-care jobs (personal-care aide, home-health aide, and nursing assistant) whose skills are primarily emotional. With a whole generation of Baby Boomers entering the aged demographic, it is time to put more financial and spiritual resources into higher pay, more time off, and continuing education for those in direct-care jobs. And let's make sure that they are well trained in the virtues of emotional intelligence!