The pace of the digital transformation is driving more than just demand for professionals in digital occupations. It is also changing the skill sets that workers will need to thrive in these jobs.
According to a report by Randstad on digital skills of the future, digital technologies will fundamentally change the types of skills workers need in two ways. First, workers will need to acquire adequate digital and cognitive skills to interact with emerging technologies.
Secondly, digital technologies will free up workers to focus on tasks that AI isn’t capable of performing effectively. This means socio-emotional skills and human traits such as empathy, intuition and creativity will grow in importance as AI is adopted more broadly.
Identifying the skill profiles of in-demand occupations is a key challenge for business leaders and policymakers, said the report. Based on job postings online, the report also highlighted that the demand for typical digital skills has far outpaced demand for other skills over the past decade.
“Assessing the speed at which demand for various skills is increasing across the labour market is essential for business leaders as they look to stay ahead of competitors, retain staff and prepare workers for the changing workplace landscape,” the report added.
Advanced data analytics
Advanced data analysis skills are not only mentioned in online job postings much more frequently than a decade ago, but they also appear in a much wider range of job and work contexts. This signals that their use has spread from narrow contexts such as the IT sector to a varied range of sectors and jobs.
The wider availability of a range of data sets means this trend is likely to continue. The fastest growth is for advanced data analysis, demand for which has spread 15.5 times more quickly than the average for all skills. In the US, the pace is 15 times faster than for average skills, while in Singapore it is nearly five times faster. Within this category, demand for skills related to data science has diffused 18 times faster than average, while machine learning has spread 17 times faster.
Digital skills related to business and sales
With digital technologies in use in nearly all productive sectors of the economy, there are rising needs for a range of related skills. The number of online job postings listing digital skills connected to business and sales has diffused across jobs 8.5 times faster than the average, with the strongest growth in social media skills. Demand for programming skills shot up eight times faster than the average, while growth in demand for IT automation skills spread six times faster.
Automation and the Internet of Things
Skills related to automation and the IoT are diffusing as much as six times quicker on average than demand for other skills, fueled by the growing popularity of products for smart homes, and of smart wearables such as watches. The pace has been especially quick in the UK and US, happening six and seven times faster than the average skill, respectively. This demand will continue to grow as automation accelerates and the IoT expands to cities and sectors such as agriculture
The mounting risk of cyberattacks has sparked increasing investment in security and risk management, and this has in turn driven an increase in the hiring of workers with cybersecurity skills. Demand in the US is spreading more than 10 times faster than for the average skill.
Programming skills are also in high demand because they play a key role in a variety of fast-growing job categories. In the US and UK, the pace at which the demand has diffused is between six and nine times faster than for the average skill, while it’s slower in Canada and Singapore. Among the subskills that go into programming, demand for scripting language skills has spread far faster than the average — particularly in the US, where it has climbed 17 times faster.