Most studies dealing in the future of jobs come to a few common conclusions. One, in a few years from now, the skills required to perform jobs would have shifted significantly. Two, job roles are no longer about one skill; they would involve mastery over a combination of skills. Third is the concept of continuous learning. A fourth conclusion is the stress on critical thinking, because when machines do everything that is standardised, humans could possibly bank on roles that need higher cognitive abilities.
LinkedIn's 'Future of Skills 2019' report, released on Thursday, harps on these issues as well. The report plotted the top 10 rising skills in Asia Pacific, backed by data mined from member profiles and listings on its platform. The research, conducted between March 13 and April 15, 2019, defines rising skills as "skills that have experienced exponential growth in the last few years in adoption by professionals. It's not only professionals adopting these skills, organisations are also vying for talent with these skills".
India, first. The top three skills witnessing a rise in the country are Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Compliance, and Continuous Integration.
RPA are software robots that can automate repeatable tasks. Indian IT services and the BPO companies have latched on to RPA to reduce their dependence on engineers. In the good old days of call centres, for instance, the revenue growth of Indian BPOs equalled the growth in the number of people hired. This is changing fast with RPA - software robots now replicate the non-voice jobs humans did. It is also becoming common for global customers to negotiate with BPOs on rates reduction in contracts because they know many processes can be automated. The LinkedIn report states that examples of occupations which have RPA skills include Business Analyst, Consultant, Robotics Engineer.
Meanwhile, Continuous Integration is about integrating codes into a shared repository to detect problems continuously. Examples of occupations include DevOps Engineer, Full Stack Engineer, Software Engineer. The report elaborates: "As industries become digital first, a key business priority is ensuring the integrity of networks. Continuous testing is vital because software and code are updated frequently. Developing deploying testing can be time consuming, and means developers spend more time deploying than developing. Continuous integration allows developers to automate troubleshooting of new code as it is integrated, and identify problems early".
Compliance skills are about ensuring that a company complies with regulatory and legal requirements. Examples of occupations which have these skills are Chief Data Officer, Compliance Officer, Risk Management Officer. The growth of this skill in India is possibly on the back of ensuing data laws, the need for greater protection of customer data and the high stakes involved in India's thrust towards data localisation.
The LinkedIn report weaves in the global context to compliance as a skill: "In a globalised environment, data protection is a primary concern. For any organisation that collects, handles or uses consumer data, demonstrating rigorous compliance with privacy and data protection standards is vital to securing trust and, ultimately, business.The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a set of rigorous regulatory standards on how companies collect and manage data. It was designed and adopted by the European Union in 2016, and came into effect from May 2018. This in part has led to the rise of the Chief Data Officer, who is responsible for the handling and governance of data, rather than solely the collection of it".
While LinkedIn's data crunching threw up skills that were mostly tech-heavy, those such as Compliance are not - other non-tech skills in demand also include Social Media Marketing and Human-centred Design (occupations: Graphics Designer, Product Designer, User Experience Designer). Different countries in the Asia Pacific see rising demand for different skills but a combined list, not listed above, would include Workflow Automation, Gesture Recognition Technology, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and Frontend Web Development. The top three rising skills of China are Frontend Web Development, Artificial Intelligence, and Blockchain.
The LinkedIn report also harps on the need for soft skills, which sort of cuts across nearly very skills category or job roles mentioned. "While rising skills are unsurprisingly largely dominated by tech skills, soft skills are also growing in prominence. This is because tech is breaking out of its silos, and soft skills, such as creativity, problem solving, and critical thinking are in demand to expand the application of new technology," the report states. One example of a 'soft' role is that of Customer Success Manager, employed by Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) companies.
"To reduce customer churn, the SaaS industry created roles to support this strategic initiative. The rise of the Customer Success Manager is one such example. The CSM must rely on their soft skills to individualise the product and deliver the best outcome for clients based on their particular needs". So, how big is the demand for talent who have invested in these rising skills or already possess them? LinkedIn's answer: Three times more than the rest of the talent base.