There’s a lot of speculation nowadays – much of it rather gloomy – on how automation and AI will change the way people work.
It isn’t new. In fact it’s a process that has been ongoing since the start of the Industrial Revolution. The thing that is new is the dizzying pace of those changes. The world of work has transformed more in the past five years than in the previous 50. And that pace can only increase as technology constantly re-invents itself.
But while robots look set to eliminate the need for human involvement in a whole array of jobs, from banking to bus driving, it isn’t all one-way traffic. On the contrary, a recent report from McKinsey predicts a global talent shortage of around 85 million qualified workers by 2020. And a lot of that shortage will be in the business we work in.
Let’s zero in our industry and pick out some trends that will affect employers, recruitment consultants like us and workers like you. More importantly, what you can do to profit from those trends.
What the changes mean for employers
Whether they’re new start-ups or long established, organisations have been going digital for most of the century so far and the process of change has gone a long way now, from the cutting edge to the mainstream. Leaders and managers now need to be totally comfortable with technology, unfazed by innovation, eager to adopt and contribute to it.
Companies need to compete, attract and keep the cream of an increasingly selective workforce, by offering them stimulus, challenges, a virtually endless supply of education and re-training so they can re-adapt to new developments, as well as considerations such as wellness and work-life balance. Important though it is, it’s not just about the money any more.
As an interesting sidenote, issues of gender and diversity are becoming an ever more pressing topic that organisations now have to deal with seriously, as gaps and inequalities can no longer be ignored. This is a moral and social issue, of course, but also a pragmatic one, as employers search for new ways to plug that imminent talent crisis.
What the changes mean for recruitment consultants
Like many others, the basic functions and processes of our industry are now almost fully digital. The days when consultants operated a chain of retail outlets with a presence on every High Street are gone. However, ours is also an industry where human interaction remains essential and, as things stand, we don’t see any likelihood of that being replaced any time soon. Humans will always be humans and will always need, appreciate and be motivated by fellow human contact.
We see our challenge as achieving the perfect balance between human and robo-consulting. We need to use the best of AI to focus on attaining ever finer, more selective matches between the right people and the right jobs or contracts. We need to move constantly toward relating to job seekers as our customers, not numbers. And we need to maintain the emphasis on emotional intelligence that was always our priority, even before the tech revolution started, by developing real relationships built on trust with the people we work with.
What the changes mean for you
This is the part you’ll naturally be most interested in, so there’s a short and a long answer.
The short answer is that recent developments have led to excellent opportunities at the moment, especially in the financial services industry, for big data specialists, business analysts and infrastructure engineers. Demand for big data specialists looks likely to continue well into the foreseeable future. Also, the unending evolution of Google algorithms has sparked more demand for mobile specialists, web developers and user experience specialists.
In the longer term, disruption, fragmentation and specialisation are fast becoming the watchwords. The blunt and honest truth is that those skills you learnt a few years ago, which might have been expected to last a career lifetime, may not now be enough to land you the best work. So we strongly suggest that you take a cool look at your skill set and if it seems even a little behind the times, please do all you can to update it.
Do some research and get some online tuition – there’s a lot available. Best of all, try to hone your qualifications around currently breaking specialisations like Amazon Web Services, MS Azure, Cloud and IoT. As well as the qualifications, try to get some track record. And above all, be ready to make a few more CHANGES in the years ahead.
Good luck and count on us!