We are in the midst of a massive upheaval in the job market in the UK & Ireland. The rapidly evolving technological landscape is pushing boundaries across all industries. Automation is now used to perform or enhance many administrative tasks, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is already more a part of daily life than you might realise and robotics, while commonplace in manufacturing, is beginning to show impact in other sectors.
You’ll likely have read the headline ‘robots are coming for your jobs’ at some point and there is no doubt that certain job roles are becoming obsolete as technology takes over. However AI, automation and robotics are not here to take over; they’re actually enhancing what we do and how we do it. They will enable us to be more agile, more responsive, more ambitious; they are tools that will be deployed and implemented by humans.
PageGroup, in partnership with trends forecasters Foresight Factory, undertook research to examine the emerging trends and technologies that will shape tomorrow’s workplace. Through an analysis of these trends and with the input of our expert recruitment consultants, as well as career experts, we predicted what these trends mean for the skills, experience and achievements required in future entry level jobs and the future CVs of employees across key sectors.
The message from our research in partnership with the Foresight Factory is clear: entry level jobs are not going anywhere; they are simply changing. Technology will complement, streamline and redefine existing jobs rather than merely replace them. Gone will be the days of long hours spent working on spreadsheets, processing data, or handling customer enquiries. Those tasks will be streamlined by machines, allowing workers to focus more time on complex tasks which require a human touch. As well as working with advancing technologies, junior employees will be involved in more planning, reporting and analytical jobs, and as such their required skill set will change.
So what are the key technology trends and how are they likely to impact skills for entry-level workers in the future?
Trend 1 – Liquid Skills (Up-Skilling)
One of the main ways that new technology will change the workforce will be in the evolving skill sets it necessitates. It will be important that employees can use this new technology efficiently and as such they will have to adapt to a new way of learning; done quickly, re-skilling where necessary in order to stay relevant in an ever changing working environment.
The value of an individual’s education will no longer lie in gaining an exhaustive knowledge of a specialism but in the ability to learn rapidly and take on new skills. The ability to pick up new skill sets, and the speed at which one can apply them to work will be a key factor in one’s employability.
Education or up-skilling will be a constant throughout the career of anyone entering the workforce in 2030. One long term period of study before beginning work may no longer be the norm, rather intermittent periods of accelerated study to take on new skills as technology changes a job role and industry. As technology continuously impacts, evolves and enhances each sector, those who work with technology must adapt, evolve and advance themselves.
Clearly, continuous learning and career agility are going to be essential. Jobs are changing quickly, as technology starts to complement, redefine and potentially replace many existing jobs. Individuals will need to keep their eyes on potential career options and work proactively to develop the new skills and knowledge required; on-going proactive career management is likely to be essential for continued employability.
Corinne Mills, careers coach, author and MD of Personal Career Management
Trend 2 – Engineered Empathy (Emotional AI)
New advances in artificial intelligence technology will assist customer service workers in repetitive tasks and will lead to a new generation of intelligent chatbots and automated consumer-facing platforms. In some cases this will see entry level roles replaced by smart AI however there will always be a need for human input. Emotional intelligence will still be a key requirement and is likely to become a core commercial expectation making it a highly prized skill.
The automated response system is getting smarter and machines have the ability to respond in an empathetic way, however there is only so far that this can go. These systems are likely to be able to handle basic requests but where more complex interaction take place a human agent will need to step in. Machine learning has the potential to push the boundaries here but the human touch could become a point of differentiation for consumers who may favour brands where they can interact with a human.
While chatbots are already exhibiting impressive levels of sophistication, in reality emotional AI and chatbots will be used concurrently with human staff. It will be necessary for employees to understand how these tool operate in order to utilise them at their most effective. Knowledge of the ways a chatbot or AI assistant works will be an essential skill for anyone working in a customer facing role.
Trend 3 – Beyond Human (Bio-hacking)
We have already seen the advent of the microchip implant, which allows workers to open doors, log on to terminals and pay for goods. This is likely to be just the beginning of bio-enhancements which will enable employees to perform tasks easier, faster and with better results. A future awaits in which smart implants, high performance prosthetics and memory-enhancing components and ‘wearables’ will be needed for workers to keep pace with technology. This is not necessarily about competing with machines and technologies but rather collaborating with them.
Biometric wearables, such as smart watches, Google Glass 2.0 and health monitoring tech offer a glimpse into a future in which technology enhances our ability to perform in all aspects of our lives. This is only likely to progress as integrated and wearable technology becomes ever more influential in the world of work.
Human skills are and will continue to be irreplaceable
While AI, automation, robotics and human enhancement technologies may offer exciting new ways to push business forward and boost capabilities, any employee’s greatest asset will continue to be very human skills.
Recently, at a conference on applied robotics, I asked the panel of 10 academics (all leading courses in engineering and robotics) what skills they hope their students would attain with their degrees.
They cited: inquisitiveness, creativity, curiosity, flexibility, human values, practicality, proactivity, drive, self-awareness and passion for life. It’s a challenging list to measure, but none the less, would seem to be align to what many employers are looking for now and in future.
Nicola Strong, occupational psychologist and MD of Strong Enterprises
Judgement, making sense of nuanced scenarios, offering creativity and being empathetic are things that machines cannot replicate or replace and they will become key selling points for businesses and highly sought after capabilities among the workforce.