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Coaches can lead the shift to Industry 5.0 by strengthening human skills

The transition to Industry 5.0 requires improving uniquely human skills and abilities like creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration. Coaches can be at the forefront of change.


Widespread adoption of AI reveals a growing need to develop human skills that complement technology


Coaching can help strengthen social and soft skills that support client resilience and adaptability


Strengthening human skills will help organizations utilize the best of technological and human capacity

Wisdom Weavers

Technology is transforming how humans work, revealing an urgent need for soft skills development

Advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) is disrupting the world of white-collar work, where new technologies can process large amounts of data, streamline administrative tasks, and replicate basic conversations. AI may soon replace or augment most entry-level and mid-career positions as these programs become more sophisticated. The World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report estimates that 60% of global workers will need additional training by 2027. In the same report, CEOs ranked human skills like creativity, critical thinking, and strategic thinking as top development priorities, noting that employees will also need the resilience to adapt to rapid change while avoiding burnout. Coaches are positioned to guide clients through this transformation, strengthening the human skills that complement new technologies.

From Industry 4.0 to Industry 5.0

AI is only one part of tech-driven workplace transformation. In 2016, the World Economic Forum announced the start of a 4th Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0, marked by cyber-physical systems, including big data, cloud connectivity, smart technology, and artificial intelligence. When applied at scale, these developments can help enhance workplace flexibility, connect global teams, and simplify decision-making. However, organizations can misuse these technologies to replace human workers or create cultures of surveillance and control. To address the threats of unethical tech adoption, European leaders set to envision a future Industry 5.0 defined by techno-human collaboration for a human-centered, sustainable, and resilient world.

“The job market is going to be transformed, which will have a huge impact on coaches. Coaches have an interest in helping their clients enter into a perspective that imagines the optimal possible outcomes of the technological revolution instead of having a pessimistic gaze on the whole thing.”

Dr. Gloria Origgi

The transition to Industry 5.0

Achieving Industry 5.0 requires a present emphasis on human skills development and human-centered cultures. Coaches will be integral in guiding the transition to Industry 5.0 by supporting soft and social skills development. Organizational development that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration will equip workers to partner with and oversee AI. Coaches can also guide clients to strengthen resilience and adaptability as they navigate rapid workplace disruption. Through this work, coaches will help individuals and organizations chart a path for human-AI collaboration.

Human skills remain a defining asset for organizational success and growth

Industry 5.0 aspires to leverage technology in a way that enhances human capacity. Coaches can support clients nervous about this transition by helping them identify unique skills and experiences that technology cannot replicate. Coaches can then work with their clients to strengthen human skills like emotional intelligence, communication, or collaboration to help them remain competitive in the workforce. In response to the widespread adoption of technology and remote work during the pandemic, freelancers and gig workers have successfully blended human skills and technological expertise to chart flexible career paths. Referencing the dread that some workers may feel about job displacement, Wisdom Weaver Gloria Origgi underscores the value of coaching to help workers engage their soft skills and approach “AI in a creative way and not only in a passive way.”

Coaches as champions of human skills

Wisdom Weaver Alex Haitoglou believes coaches are uniquely qualified to teach these skills because communication, creativity, and collaboration are important aspects of coaching practice. “When coaches work with leaders, communication skills are important because they are highly linked to retention, business growth, and employee satisfaction. When working in teams, soft skills, including empathy and asking the right questions, help build trusting relationships, which are core elements of a coaching skill set.” Coaches are even adopting technology to help organizations strengthen human-tech collaboration. As a systemic coaching platform, AceUp uses technology to enhance leadership skills, align personal and organizational goals, and establish peer support systems. Part of this transformation is strengthening human-centered culture and transferring coaching skills to fuel constructive conversation and collaborative synergy.

AceUp founder and Wisdom Weaver Will Guillaume Foussier believes that organizations “cannot lead AI transformation without profound human transformation. Applied AI is about augmenting human intelligence.” Coaches can profoundly influence this transformation by equipping teams with the skills to strengthen collaboration, especially when adopting new technologies. Ultimately, AI programs that process data, run simulations, and generate basic content are not a replacement for human expertise. Instead, these tools can be resources to engage critical thinking and creativity toward a final solution. Looking at collective intelligence, or the ability of groups to create solutions greater than any individual capacity, Gloria believes coaches can help teams optimize their use of AI by leaning on the collective intelligence of the group. As coaches work to strengthen soft and social skills, they can help teams envision how technology might support their current work or create new opportunities to expand impact.

Coaches can help workers develop greater resilience and flexibility to combat change fatigue

In addition to strengthening soft skills, organizations will need to address stress and change fatigue when facing uncertainty. Amid workplace transformation, organizations are grappling with low engagement and burnout. Global surveys like Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report and Deloitte’s Gen Z and Millennial Survey indicate that workers are dealing with record stress levels, and many are looking for new careers. To effectively address long-term disruption and prevent employee turnover, leaders will need to strengthen employee resilience and initiate strategies for human-centered change management.

One of the major challenges in preparing employees to face uncertainty and disruption is strengthening individual and organizational resilience. Coaches can play an active role in helping clients imagine how change presents new opportunities to learn and grow, explore ways to prepare for anticipated changes, and help clients identify potential resources. Wisdom Weaver Jeff Hancock, who serves on BetterUp’s Science Board, shares that coaching programs can be helpful for employees who are transitioning into the workforce after years of disrupted education and social distancing. Gen Z employees may be especially vulnerable to anxiety and change fatigue. At the same time, a report by McKinsey highlights how Gen Z are looking for ways to support their holistic well-being. 

“The generational crisis of anxiety and stress and the massive changes in hybrid work realities are some of the toughest, biggest challenges the modern workforce has faced. Coaches are on the front line, so we need them now more than ever.”

Dr. Jeff Hancock

Organizations embracing coaching cultures

Effectively addressing the challenges of overwork, stress, and change fatigue requires not only individual but also organizational commitment. Coaches can play a pivotal role in helping managers and leaders make the transition to a more human-work culture or initiate culture changes that facilitate greater partnerships among employees and teams as they navigate disruption. Increasingly, organizations are adopting coaching cultures and partnering with coaching platforms to emphasize well-being. This approach equips managers and leaders with coaching skills while creating support systems for employees at every level of the organization. A report by the International Coaching Federation and Human Capital Institute on organizational coaching strategies found that 92% of respondents agreed that coaching supports upskilling initiatives, while 90% believed that their coaching program supported employee well-being. Adopting a coaching culture has the potential to engage employees and teams around collective problem-solving, strengthening collective resilience.

The transition to Industry 5.0 will require flexibility, optimism, and perseverance. When organizations invest in workforce development and human-centered leadership, they signal value and appreciation for their employees as individuals. Coaching can help managers and leaders adopt coaching skills that strengthen communication and partnership with their teams in the face of industry disruption. Furthermore, expanding coaching services to all employees can empower them to navigate new roles while developing the human skills and resilience to leverage technology for greater impact.

A Call to Action for Coaches

Technological innovation will continue to transform the future of work and society. Coaches can be a driving force behind the transition to Industry 5.0, empowering individuals and organizations to cultivate and appreciate uniquely human skills that complement AI. Or, coaches can ignore emerging AI, drawing hard lines between human and machine intelligence. Regardless, coaches are an important resource in helping clients lean into their strengths and remain optimistic while facing disruption.

We invite coaches to consider how new technology like AI prediction tools and language simulators can enhance human decision making and creativity. We also invite coaches to be curious about how these same tools can augment human coaching to unlock new benefits that were previously unattainable:

Practical steps to guide your coaching journey:

  • Embrace curiosity over fear: Like you do with your clients, acknowledge your concerns and explore them. Engage in conversations with colleagues to seek diverse perspectives.
  • Stay informed: Read articles, attend webinars, and participate in professional development opportunities that focus on AI and coaching. Stay connected with industry experts and thought leaders.
  • Augment your coaching practice: Research AI platforms designed for coaching. Discover how AI can assist in data analysis, client engagement, and personalized coaching plans.
  • Collaborate and share insights: Join coaching communities or forums to exchange experiences and best practices. Share your insights and learn from others who have successfully integrated technology.

Learn more about how coaches can strengthen the human skills that help clients use technology:

Plus, browse related insights from the ICF Thought Leadership Institute on the role of technology in purposeful work:

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