21/08/2015

By Alex Balan, PR Professional at 123ContactForm

It is harder than ever to predict which skills will be most valuable to businesses in the future. Driven by rapid technological progress, the way in which we work and the functions we carry out have changed hugely over the past ten years. Late last year a report revealed that 35% of existing UK jobs are at high risk of replacement by technology in next twenty years. Meanwhile – and somewhat ironically – there is a digital skills shortage in Britain today. But what does that mean for the business of the future and what are the core skills likely to be?

Without doubt, Britain is facing a shortage in digital skills. Many business leaders report that graduates simply do not posses the required know-how to excel in the modern enterprise. What is largely driving this requirement is the need to capture and interpret data. Not surprisingly, one of the most in-demand positions today is that of data scientist – someone who can extract knowledge from large volumes of data – as businesses scramble to unlock the hidden value of Big Data. But we tend to lump science, technology, engineering and maths together (as confirmed by the acronym STEM), which may obscure the changing skill demands of businesses.

Around ten years ago, most enterprise-level businesses would have either employed an in-house digital team or an external agency to develop and code websites and carry out specific online functions. This is no longer the case. Today, the equivalent team is doing very different things. During the intervening time, technology has evolved so that employees can offload the time-consuming tasks and instead focus on the core of their business. For example, website development has become much more user-friendly and because of advances in back-end applications, a non-specialist is able to create a slick website with bespoke and complex functionalities with relative ease. This means today’s employee can carry out a far wider range of activities.

Tomorrow’s businesses may demand a far wider skill set that we imagine. Now that we can easily capture data in real-time from a range of sources that bring us ever-closer to the hopes and desires of consumers, the challenge has shifted from capturing information to interpreting information. Many businesses are sitting on troves of data but struggle to make meaningful sense of it. So while we may not see a wholesale shift away from the need for the mathematical mind, tomorrow’s employee will need a combination of analytical skills with a deep understanding of consumer behaviour. As such, disciplines such as psychology and sociology may become more valued in the business domain.

The mass uptake of the smartphone and big data analytics are changing the business landscape permanently. We can only imagine what may come along over the next ten years, and therefore it is impossible to say what skills will be most valued. But there is one constant: technology is replacing humans to in many areas and in order to keep up, employees of the future will need a diverse set of skills.