Demand for digital automation skills is skyrocketing. Here’s how to prepare…

By Robert Half on 7th May 2021

Demand for digital automation skills has doubled since 2019. New research from Robert Half and Burning Glass shows that, by the end of 2021, demand will be up by 99% compared to pre-pandemic figures.

This requirement isn’t just exclusive to tech teams, either. Analysis of over 9,000,000 UK job postings revealed that non-technical roles had seen a 125% increase in demand for digital automation skills. This is especially true for Management Consultant and Sales Director roles.

As demand continues to skyrocket, we reveal what caused the spike in this specific skill requirement and how businesses can prepare talent management and hiring strategies to meet it head-on.

Why digital automation skills?

The UK workforce has been on a steady trajectory towards burnout for several years. The recent pandemic has compounded the issue, leaving a staggering 86% of employees feeling burned out and unmotivated.

For many business leaders, digital automation is the solution to the problem. It’s no longer just a tool to increase competitive advantage — it has become a lifeline to relieve pressure on overtaxed employees by removing repetitive, manual tasks from their workload.

An excellent example of this is the recent change in skill requirements for sales director roles. Our recruitment experts have noticed a surge in requests for professionals with the ability to increase efficiency using technology.

Roles and job functions will inevitably evolve as automation becomes widespread. This begs the question: how can leadership teams balance this skill requirement with the shortage of qualified talent?

Revisit learning and development

As the need for digital automation skills continues to rise, learning and development programmes will need to be revisited. Over the next decade, 21 million UK workers will need digital upskilling, and digital automation training should form an integral part of this educational programming.

Businesses can also work with contract talent to press on with immediate automation projects while giving teams the additional support they crave. Working alongside contract talent gives permanent employees the opportunity to upskill on the job as they learn from a professional with a niche skillset.

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Hiring strategies to address the digital skills gap

Competition for skilled talent remains fierce, even in the wake of the pandemic. Business leaders see top talent as the key to gaining competitive advantage and new momentum during a time of economic uncertainty.

Hiring the best candidates during the current climate requires careful strategy and may mean readdressing the criteria for any given role. For example, you may find it more beneficial to accept a candidate with less experience, but a broad skill set that includes digital management. A recruitment professional can help you develop a strategy to balance the role's needs with your training programmes and the talent on offer.

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Perform an employee impact analysis

Introducing automation into work processes is inevitable, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't proceed with caution. Conducting an impact analysis can help highlight potential talent management issues before they arise. How will automation affect employee happiness, career progression or career development? Forecasting can make the transition smoother and ensures your teams can handle the shift.

Contact our experts for more advice on hiring for digital automation skills or request staff now. You can find more hiring and management insights on our advice blog or in our special report on demand for skilled talent.

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