Working with clients to find the ideal talent for roles in businesses gives us a special perch on which to see trends and changes ahead. It’s a comfort to see our sense about this are turning out to be confirmed by research as well.

In my earlier news article this year, I outlined our perspective about artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on future jobs. My view is that AI will sit side-to-side with roles only people can do. This month’s LinkedIn 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report* confirms my thoughts.

Guy Berger, LinkedIn’s Chief Economist, notes that six out of 15 emerging jobs at present relate to AI in some form. AI skills show a 190% increase globally from 2015 to 2017. While it is clear AI has clear momentum, it is not at the expense of operational roles which require human skills. A few of the fastest growing roles include administrative assistants, assurance staff, sales development representatives and recruiters, along with technical roles of software engineers, blockchain developers (33 times growth from last year), machine learning and data scientists (12 times growth from last year). This balance of human and technical skills growth is not industry-weighted. The high demands run the gamut from healthcare to government services.

Underlying this mix is the analysis of skill gaps companies cite as most vital to fill. While the demand for technical capabilities are clear, more than have the list of skill gaps are human skills:

  • Oral communication (including public speaking, presentation skills)
  • Leadership and People management (including team building and teamwork, people and team management), and
  • Time management (including organization, multi-tasking).

Based on our work, we can add critical thinking, diplomacy and social skills. Thus, while technical abilities matter, so do social ones.

Candidates with a healthy balance of technical and social skills have a clear advantage. Of course, companies who have people with this balance will want to be sure to keep them. Moreover, the need for new skills creates a supply competitive challenge.

Wake Up Call

The need for internal competency training is key to solving the talent needs ahead of us. It is the perfect time for companies to invest more heavily in their people. Developing skills is both good for employees and the business.

Identify Most Needed Skills: HR teams – as leaders in talent development –can partner with their executive team to define the new technical skills and social skills most vital to their strategy. Using a 3-year planning horizon, a business team can identify the top priorities in competencies necessary to meet their goals.

Identify Internal Candidates: Next, executives can evaluate their professionals based on their current performance and individual potential to master new skills. We recommend using a matrix to determine who is “ready now” from “ready after training” in both management and technical career ladders.**

For those individuals who have high potential, the company can design or source customized, personal development plans which include specialized training programs to develop these much-needed skills. Developing new capabilities with existing talent produces higher return on investment in several measurable ways, including retention, engagement, costs for talent acquisition and speed of success in change management.

Make/Buy Decisions: Developing skills internally is a “make decision.” Taking this investment first reduces the amount of professionals that must be recruited from outside. External sourcing is focused on roles for which time is critical. If the company must have that capability immediately and cannot wait to develop it, the position is prime for external recruiting. Sorting for which are “make versus buy” helps focus precious costs of sourcing, increases time to capability and lessens the time commitments for onboarding what otherwise may be too many new people.

Finding the right formula for your company is a strategic discussion well worth the time. In this competitive market filling with new skill demands, there is no time better than the present.