Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, has warned the fourth industrial revolution is changing the workplace and workers need to be prepared for further change during their careers. He starts from the view that the world of work is transforming due to the continued rapid evolution of technology and that while certain jobs and aspects of roles will inevitably become automated, entirely new roles will also be created and demand for the latest skills is set to increase.
Alistair explains: “Despite the more sensationalist headlines predicting the demise of the human worker, at Hays, we simply don’t see this happening. We are, in fact, seeing an explosion in new roles around AI and data and a relentless demand for specific soft skills such as adaptability, creativity and collaboration. After all, and as I’ve said before, we’re yet to see an algorithm that can read things like humour, temperament or enthusiasm as effectively as a person can.”
Alistair suggests employers should future-proof their talent pipelines in order to remain competitive and he advises jobseekers to keep their skills relevant to remain attractive to employers.
Businesses will continue to seek AI developers, especially those that can apply AI technology in a consumer context. In addition, AI candidates with an understanding of the wider business opportunities will be in high demand, along with developers who can enhance an organisation and optimise business processes.
Alistair also predicts an increase in data-related roles, “Digital information mountains have grown, and the rise in the Internet of Things technology is likely to accelerate this. However, data without insight is of no value, which explains why we are seeing a sharp rise in data scientist, data analyst, data artists and data visualiser vacancies, around the world. These professionals make sense of a business’s data, helping to turn zeros and ones into actionable insights, whether that’s changes in customer behaviour or new opportunities which haven’t yet been spotted by human eyes.”
Alistair goes on to explain that data is driving demand in a number of sector specific roles, including marketing jobs such as marketing automation, performance marketers, customer analytics and CRM specialists. The demand has been created by businesses as they seek to target customers in more sophisticated ways.
Despite the emergence of new technologies and related roles, more traditional tech and non-tech specific roles will continue to be relevant.
Alistair offers his insights, “Skilled software developers are in high demand, particularly those with front-end user interface experience, as organisations evolve their digital offering to meet changing consumer expectations. Java and scalable programming languages remain preferred, although there is still a need for C++ fluency despite increasing migration from legacy systems.
“Preparation for regulatory changes across several industries, as well as a continued focus on digital transformation, are creating large-scale projects. This will see increasing demand for project and change management professionals, particularly those needed to fill project manager and business analyst roles.”
Due to new technologies, there will be increased demand for leaders who can ensure the security of a business’s systems. As a result demand will continue to increase for cyber security officers who are able to safeguard organisations against cyber-attacks.
With the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to be implemented in May 2018, Alistair states the regulation is predicted to create great demand for data protection officer positions worldwide.
Demand for chief automation officers (CAOs) is also expected to increase, as Alistair explains, “Across the boardroom table you may also start seeing CAOs as businesses recognise AI’s revolutionary potential, but remain alert to the unforeseen impact it could have on their business model. While the fierce battle to innovate quicker than competitors is resulting in an increase in chief innovation officers whose role is primarily responsible for managing the process of innovation and change management in an organisation.”
Alongside technical skills, soft skills will continue to be in demand. Alistair explains, “While the best technical skills and qualifications in the world can be taught, they will have limited impact unless your business is equipped with managers who understand what motivates their employees, can communicate with their team effectively and listen. Those organisations who can marry the best technology and ‘technical’ skills with teams who have an abundance of emotional intelligence will win.”
Alistair advises employers will be looking for creativity, collaboration, human interpretation and communication skills, in candidates. The jobseekers to stand out from their peers will be those who are not only able to provide solutions to challenges but communicate how and why to implement them.
It’s these trends that lead Alistair to offer this final piece of advice, “In this fast-moving world, a willingness to learn and adapt has never been so important. My advice for any candidate would be to plug any shallow gaps in your knowledge by keeping on top of current trends and changes relevant to your sector by reading reports, news articles, attending networking functions and seminars, and participating in online discussions. Of course, upskilling where possible, whether by formal courses or on-the-job learning, is always advisable to future-proof yourself.”
Alistair concludes, “Disruption in the world of work is indiscriminate and everyone must take the time to stay relevant. This change shouldn’t be feared though. It comes with a host of new opportunities for both businesses and candidates, and I believe 2018’s jobs market will generate far more excitement than concern.”