DX is Shaping the Skillsets Enterprises Need
Reading guide: To cope with challenges in digital transformation and industrial upgrading, enterprises need to understand how job positions, and the skills they require, will evolve. Ultimately, they need to predict future skill trends, provide their employees with the training they need, and expand the range of skills that they have access to.
Enterprises are digitally transforming and industries are upgrading around the world. The emergence of the disruptive technologies involved in this shift has driven the development of 'rising skills' — skills that have rapidly grown in importance and will soon become widespread — and it has also highlighted that soft skills are irreplaceable. Soft skills — such as creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking — are important for innovation, and they are hard to acquire quickly. Only people who are highly adaptable and flexible — those who have both soft skills and rising skills — can meet the ever-changing job requirements that digitalization brings.
Almost every business director, manager, and recruiter faces a shortage of core talent. In China, for example, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, recruitment demand continued to grow in 2020 — up 26% from 2019. According to LinkedIn China's The Future of Recruiting 2021 Report, from the perspective of future recruiting plans and budgets, there is huge demand for recruitment from Chinese enterprises, and the focus is on recruiting talent for key positions.
The main reasons for talent shortage in key positions are the rapid changes in skill requirements, and some of these skills are hard to acquire, even through repeated practice. Globally, an average of 42% of skills regarded as core skills in 2018 will be replaced by new ones by 2022, according to the World Economic Forum and LinkedIn's study on future work trends.
For enterprises, the changes in needs for skills means they must assess their talent and skills reserves. So how can enterprises keep their skills assets up to date? An agile talent pool to tap talent with both core skills and motivation for continuous learning will be key for enterprises seeking to address talent shortages and maintain their competitiveness.
The Future of Skills Report identifies the top 10 rising skills needed in the digital world, with cloud computing, compliance, and human-centered design standing out.
1. Compliance: continuously evaluates, monitors, and reports on the enterprise's compliance with regulatory requirements and optimizes the oversight procedures.
2. Cloud computing: provides or uses Internet-based virtualized computing, storage resources, solutions, or services.
3. Data science: manages and calculates data in statistical and machine learning methods, and uses data to analyze and forecast disciplines or business development trends.
4. Language skills:fluency in other languages can be useful in areas such as foreign affairs, international trade, and multinational corporation governance.
5. Risk management: helps enterprises measure and evaluate risks, measures the benefits and costs of reducing risks, and formulates response strategies.
6. Interactive design:analyzes the system usability, appearance design, and user emotion to create connections among people, products, and services.
7. Artificial Intelligence: studies and develops theories, methods, technologies, and application systems to perform human-like tasks.
8. Blockchain: develops and applies computer technologies such as distributed data storage, peer-to-peer transmission, consensus mechanism, and encryption algorithms.
9. Digital marketing: uses digital communication channels to promote or market products and services to consumers and enterprises.
10. Full-stack development: owns design and development skills to develop and manage core frontends and backends in software development.
Enterprises can use data about skills to make business decisions, because understanding rising skills helps enterprises grasp the key points of the talent market and helps them understand future trends in their industry. Before offering new products or services, enterprises have certain expectations about the skills they need and will make plans for recruiting people with rising skills. Through rising skills, people can gain insights into the causes of anomalies, the evolution of positions, and how industries are responding to changes. Enterprises are making decisions and taking action based on information indicated by these rising skills to ensure they remain competitive in the marketplace.
Retail giants, such as Amazon and Walmart, are already implementing business automation, including the automation of their supply chain inventory management. With automation, these two retail giants can invest heavily in training warehouse management staff in new skills so that they can shine in other positions.
Amazon is offering digital skills training for warehouse staff to help them thrive in new and emerging areas of its business. Enterprises' investments in rising skills indicate their expectations for future business growth.
Meanwhile, the OCBC RoboInvest platform — launched by Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC), one of the largest banks in Singapore — allows investors to maximize returns without having to examine every detail of an investment project, because it prepares the best possible investment portfolio for them.
Enterprises can use this data about skills to help them define the prospects of their job positions. The emergence of these rising skills represents a shift in skill requirements for traditional jobs and raises the demands that will be involved in related job roles that are emerging. Based on data analysis, LinkedIn summarizes trending skills in the future, revealing how positions will evolve in the next five years. It forecasts that the number of positions requiring more soft skills will continue growing. For example, to reduce customer loss, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) enterprises have created a new role — "customer success managers," who are responsible for using soft skills to provide customers with personalized products based on their needs and achieve the best business results.
Enterprises may not be aware of the potential of their existing employees. In fact, training talent with rising skills enables them to adapt to the future with ease and helps enterprises evolve and remain agile in the face of changes. Enterprises can train talent they already based, based on their understandings of position evolution.
Human Resources departments are starting to use new technologies to build shared service centers and personalized learning platforms to analyze talent and develop talent strategies, helping enterprises acquire the talent they want. In the future, a combination of online and offline recruitment will be used, so HRs need to optimize technologies to create a more convenient online recruitment process.
Meanwhile, the role of data analysts is transforming. More and more, people in this field have developed rising skills, such as machine learning, data visualization, and statistical analysis. While their work priorities haven't changed, the way they work is changing.
With the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, the value of soft skills is growing. These new technologies are also rapidly changing the talent and skill market, which drives the demand for hard skills — such as programming, Research and Development (R&D) cloud computing, and AI — as well as increases the demand for soft skills. In fact, 89% of executives have said it has been difficult to find people with the soft skills that they are looking for.
Even as the demand for technical skills continues to grow, the value of soft skills, such as analytical thinking, active learning, and creativity, will remain the same, or become even greater, according to the World Economic Forum. Information overload can frequently occur in this highly connected digital world, but soft skills — such as creativity, adaptability, collaboration, and time management — will enable people to sort information they have and make the correct decisions.
LinkedIn's survey of employees and professionals in Learning and Development (L&D) in the Asia-Pacific region found that respondents rated soft skills as valuable, particularly for career development. While robots and automation may replace regular manual labor, 44% of those surveyed believed that advanced thinking was crucial in a technology-led world and people needed soft skills to adapt to robots in the workplace. Among them, 43% of employees said soft skills would help them adapt to their jobs quickly and further improve themselves.
The top five trending soft skills in China are: leadership and personnel management, strategic planning, analysis and research skills, communication, and industry expertise.
L&D programs should prioritize skills required by local employees and develop personalized plans. Soft skills, ranging from understanding data, effective communication, to project management, are the most useful tools for enterprises to succeed in a digital world. No matter how technical a position is, soft skills are the key to selecting top talent.
Both business leaders and HR departments need to focus on current skills trends and take action accordingly. For CEOs, for example, it's important to ensure talent issues are always a priority. Indeed, CEOs and business leaders must use data to fundamentally implement their talent strategies.
CEOs should make use of market insights and keep talent issues on the agenda of corporate executives. When making decisions, most executives will refer to competitiveness analysis and financial statement data from sales and marketing departments. However, talent market data, such as rising skills data, will enable enterprises to value talent more in their decision-making, producing better business outcomes, and it will also allow enterprises to compare their workforce with that of competitors and even that of the whole industry.
CEOs should also shape the enterprise's future by creating, nurturing, and sustaining a culture of learning. In the fierce market competition, talent retention is critical to the success of an enterprise. According to LinkedIn, across the Asia-Pacific region, almost three out of every ten employees resigned because of a lack of L&D opportunities.
Enterprises should invest in new skill training to retain their employees and invest in L&D resources to enable companies to anticipate, plan for, and respond to unexpected situations before demand for certain skills emerges. But L&D isn't an overhaul of skills, nor does it have to be a mandatory and time-consuming program. In fact, for talent and enterprises, courses that are shorter, more targeted, and pragmatic, and can teach employees the skills they need are the most valuable ones.
The commitment to L&D is also attractive to those who are among the first to acquire rising skills. Creating a culture of learning and skill enhancement means that talent will find new ways to use new technologies. This process should start from the top down, with the chief executives, because they are the ones who are ultimately tasked with leading the enterprise to success.
In this context, HR departments effectively become strategic partners, and they should improve their data analysis skills accordingly. Human resource departments should position themselves as strategic partners and guide their enterprise's strategic planning with the help of data. Recruiting and finding talent should be the key point in business planning and strategy-making of human resources. Meanwhile, collaboration between human resources and business directors is crucial: They can work together to develop a human resource plan that reflects the talent needs of the enterprise now and in the future.
In the short term, the return on investing in technology is more visible than that of investing in existing talent, so it's more convincing only when data is used to demonstrate the value of new skills training and skill enhancement.
HRs should build a workforce that is resilient to changes; they should also view existing talent in their enterprises as another talent market and pay attention to which employees can learn rising skills, what their current position will look like five years later, and whether they have the ability to learn the skills they need.
Employees need to feel that taking time to improve their skills is worthwhile, and enterprises need to motivate their employees to learn. This all takes time: Data analysts don't become data scientists overnight, but they can develop the skills they need if they're given time and guidance.
Clearly, continuous learning has become a pillar for human resource planning. But it can't be achieved overnight — only by building a culture of continuous learning can enterprises make themselves more adaptable to the changing nature of the digital world.