Surviving the rise of the machines – must-have employment skills for 2030


By Connor

20 Nov 2017

The future of work is a topic that cannot escape your attention. According to PWC, by early 2030, 30% of the UK’s workforce could be impacted by artificial intelligence (AI). So should you be worried?

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John Hawksworth chief economist at PWC said: "A key driver of our industry-level estimates is the fact that manual and routine tasks are more susceptible to automation, while social skills are relatively less automatable. That said, no industry is entirely immune from future advances in robotics and AI."

There are now websites such as Will Robots Take My Job dedicated to predicting how likely you will be impacted. And a study by Oxford University and Deloitte has produced a clever tool that calculates the % chance of your job being automated.

And even those who use social skills and face the public every day, for example in banks and customer service roles, are being replaced. Telemarketers for example score a 99% chance of automation according to the tool. Interestingly, the role least likely at, with 0.4%, is a publican or manager of licensed premises. Tell that to Michael Sheen who played the android bartender Arthur, in last year’s film Passengers. 

Yet what should you do once you have your impact percentage score? What should we be encouraging the next generation to consider? What skill sets should we as employers be developing and on the lookout for? Of course, there has been a dramatic rise in AI and programming jobs, but for those of us who cannot join them, how do we beat them?

In all the studies, roles that seem to need the essence of what makes us human are the most robust. Those that understand and share the feelings of another person and understand why we do what we do, come out on top: psychologists, therapists, nurses, social workers, marketers, teachers, judges and human resource managers for example. This is coupled with creative and innovative roles: artists, performers, writers, designers, musicians, and engineers. 

It won't be so much about what we know, but how we learn. Not about what we do, but how we do it, how we encourage, persuade and inspire others to do. How we innovate. How we change; our adaptability. It's time to review our skills matrix, identifying those that cannot be replicated easily and those that don't necessarily require high levels of emotional intelligence. 

A good place to start would be to assess capability in: empathy, persuasion, innovation, leadership, adaptability, resilience, collaboration and decision-making. Yet it's also about our identity, our drivers, what our core values are and how they align to an organisation. Self-awareness another key attribute to our future success.  Blair Sheppard global leader of strategy and leadership development at PwC sums it up so well in the 2017 PWC publication Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030 (which if you haven't read I most highly recommend). He says: "So what should we tell our children? That to stay ahead, you need to focus on your ability to continuously adapt, engage with others in that process, and most importantly retain your core sense of identity and values. For students, it’s not just about acquiring knowledge, but about how to learn. For the rest of us, we should remember that intellectual complacency is not our friend and that learning not just new things but new ways of thinking – is a life-long endeavour."

How we assess and foster such qualities will also be key and of great interest to me. We at Connor have over 25 years in HR consultancy and 'people' is our area of expertise. We have worked with and continue to partner companies at the point where human and technology meet.

As a recruiter, the changes tech has made to my profession over the past decade are phenomenal. I believe it is my job to stay informed. I am very data driven, mapping out markets and mining big data, but it’s in the interpretation of that data and the personal, 'in real life' experience I have of a candidate, that I still believe is of the most value. 

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Sarah Cooper is head of recruitment at Connor and an experienced in-house recruiter. You can connect with Sarah and keep up to date with her opinions on LinkedIn

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