Aarti Thapar is an experienced Talent and Business leader, currently based in Singapore as the Director of Customer Success for the APAC region for LinkedIn. In this role, she leads a team that helps customers to be successful in using LinkedIn’s products to create economic opportunity. In this exclusive interaction with People Matters, Aarti, who will be speaking at TechHR 2019, sheds light on the latest trends shaping the workforce and the skill gaps that need to be addressed for emerging jobs.
What are some of the latest trends shaping the workforce?
The world of work is going through a period of arguably unprecedented change at the hands of machines; automation, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the new kids on the employment block. Changing technologies, market structures, and consumer preferences have kept all the industry leaders on their toes, and managers are in a constant hustle to stay updated with the changes. Four very important trends which will transform the way employers hire, develop and retain talent, include the following:
AI and Automation: Artificial intelligence technologies are more ubiquitous than many people realize. As per McKinsey’s 2017 Global Institute Report, it’s estimated that by 2030, as many as 375 million people globally, may need to switch occupational categories and learn new skills. That’s because AI and automation are predicted to displace millions of jobs and create millions of new ones. Our findings suggest that while changes driven by AI technologies may still be in their infancy, we are already seeing their impact across the global labor market. As automation and AI continue to reshape entire industries, companies, and jobs, strong soft skills are becoming absolutely vital. Soft skills can make or break a hire, and they can also make or break a company: 92% of talent professionals say they matter as much or more than hard skills when they hire, and 80% say they’re increasingly important to company success.
Skills Gaps: We believe that the leaders of a future-facing organization must capitalize on real-time insights and make talent a boardroom conversation - and use insights to drive business decisions to identify, assess, and close the skills gap and to develop talent. Reskilling is key as companies may not always need to hire new talent for those new skills - but simply retrain existing talent with a well-planned upskilling program.
Independent Workers: The rise of independent workers, defined as freelancers, short term contractors, and gig economy, will have a large role to play in defining the workforce of the future. A thriving online marketplace, coupled with a growing millennial population, are important factors leading to the popularity of contractual employment. Millennials are expected to comprise 75% of the global workforce by 2025, and the data shows millennials are hungry for more autonomy “and a good side-hustle”- both of those are possible via independent work. Also, hiring a contractual employee involves far lesser costs as opposed to hiring a full-time head. Cost efficiency is a major factor drawing businesses towards contract workers.
Work Flexibility: Today, work flexibility is no longer a perk, but an expectation. In just the last two years, there’s been a 78% increase in job posts on LinkedIn that mention work flexibility. And in the space of only four years, there’s been a 24% increase in the number of people who say flexible work arrangements are a very important factor when considering a new job. It’s no more just a ‘feel good’ perk since it can benefit the business as much as the employees. Along with improving retention, talent acquisition, and employee productivity, flexibility can save a bunch of resources and money on real estate.
Technology is rapidly destroying old jobs and creating new ones. What are some of the emerging jobs in the new economy?
There are complex feedback loops between new technology, jobs, and skills. New technologies can drive business growth, job creation and demand for specialist skills but they can also displace entire roles when certain tasks become obsolete or automated.
Against India’s rapidly evolving economic landscape, new jobs are emerging faster than ever before. With nearly 5 million people expected to join the workforce every year, India’s adaptability to change is key today. LinkedIn recently launched the Top 10 Emerging Jobs In India report that identifies the fastest growing and up-and-coming jobs that saw the largest growth in frequency in a five-year-period. Technology roles dominate this list, but the report also finds that these roles are no longer limited to tech companies. Today, tech jobs are in demand across sectors from pharma to banking and retail, and companies in these various industries see a high demand for talent in these roles. For example, the role of Machine Learning Engineer has seen a 43x rate of growth in this five-year-period, and the Application Development Analyst’s role has seen a 32x rate of growth.
Soft skills are today seen as one of the most in-demand skills and are increasingly more critical to success in this tech age. With the role of “Customer Success Manager” ranked as the sixth emerging job in India, following the rise of five technical jobs, this juxtaposition is symbolic of this trend. CSMs, for both tech firms and non-tech firms, are critical to help onboard, influence, and retain customers. and soft skills such as communications and relationship-building play a key role here in making their customers successful.
Here are the top 10 emerging jobs in India:
Machine Learning Engineer
Application Development Analyst
Back End Developer
Full Stack Engineer
Customer Success Manager
Digital Marketing Specialist
Big Data Developer
What do you think are some of the skills gaps between the workforce and the skills required for the new jobs being created?
The LinkedIn “Future of Skills 2019 - APAC” identified “Skills gap” as one of the megatrends affecting the workforce of today and tomorrow. There is an increasing shortage of digital/hard skills in the world right now. The rise of AI, automation, and robots is rapidly changing the talent and skills market. But it is not just driving demand for technical, hard skills – like coding, cloud-computing, and AI, soft skills are highly sought after in the field. This is mainly because tech is breaking out of its silos, and soft skills are in demand to help expand the application of new technology and will be highly important globally going forward.
Some of the in-demand soft-skills include:
- Critical thinking or problem-solving
- Adaptability and flexibility
-Innovation and creativity
LinkedIn’s learning & development research that surveyed 4,000 employees and 800 L&D professionals in the Asia Pacific observed that 44% surveyed APAC talent thought higher-level thinking would remain vital in a tech-dominated world. However, the talent needs to feel justified in taking the time to upskill, and companies need to make sure they are incentivizing talent to learn. The top three barriers Indian employees face in taking up L&D programs is Time (60%), Cost (41%) and Accessibility (37%). It is very important for organizations to understand that a consistent culture of learning is now the mainstay of all good workforce planning.
While technology is rapidly shaping the world of work, why do you think the future of work can still be human?
The LinkedIn Emerging Jobs Report found that AI skills in the workforce grew 190 percent from 2015 to 2017. AI is everywhere and it is expected to virtually disrupt every industry, but companies should not forget the need for human intervention is at the core of driving all these technologies. There could have been no better time for companies to in fact redefine the need for soft skills such as critical thinking and creativity and find ways to build this within their talent workforce. In fact, hard skills, are at a greater risk of automation. Recruiters will, therefore, need to rethink their hiring strategies to uncover these soft skills and upskill talent in these areas to get them future-ready.
What should be the new approach that organizations should adopt to build a people-core to drive business outcomes?
As new jobs emerge and existing jobs transform, the business success of organizations, now more than ever, hinges on its people strategy.
Globally, People Analytics related skills have grown more than 80% in the last year. And this is because the use cases for talent analytics are exploding. While companies historically used analytics to benchmark compensation and benefits and productivity, new use cases like workforce planning, culture, and diversity, employer branding, geo-location expansion, competition benchmarking have emerged.
A future-facing organization does not happen by chance. Great companies are built with great people and that requires organizations to move from transactional/by-the-book ‘talent management’ to a new world of ‘people success’. One that shifts organizational mindset and creates organizational habits that allow people to be engaged, happy and doing their best work, automatically driving better productivity and results.
In fact, recent LinkedIn research shows almost two in five APAC employees have left a company due to inadequate learning and development opportunities. Paying attention to this insight, global organizations are rapidly adopting approaches that are focused on the human experience – in 2018, the Estée Lauder Companies became the first beauty company to partner with LinkedIn Learning, giving its employees access to the most in-demand learning content featuring more than 12,000 engaging courses across business, creative and technical categories. As of August 2018, more than 5,800 employees were seen to be actively participating in digital learning initiatives on the LinkedIn Learning platform. Closer home and in the same year, Reliance Industries Limited clocked 70,000 hours of learning in the first six months of partnering with the LinkedIn platform.
Like technology, talent in the new world is agile, real-time, interactive and future-oriented. Thus, investing in talent requires the same detailed attention as investing in new technology.
What is your one advice to employees to grow and not be overwhelmed even as sweeping technology changes take place in the workplace?
Even as workplaces grapple with evolving technology, it is the talent that continues to drive business and skills drive talent. At an individual level, always be learning to grow and stay relevant. Keeping abreast with rising skills in your industry and investing in reskilling can take the sting out of disruption. And platforms like LinkedIn, with the power of its network and the consequent actionable insights it delivers, serve as an ideal pit-stop for talent as they prepare themselves to change and evolve.