Human Resources

Preparing for jobs that don't exist yet: Recruitment perspective

Over the last year or so I’ve attended a number of events where the challenge of preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet has been topic of the day. To get some perspective I posed three simple questions to range of different professionals. James Milligan from Hays Digital Technology, Sarah Hernon of Right Management and James Smith of Networkers Technology Recruitmentanswer below from a recruitment point of view.  


James Milligan is Director at Hays Digital Technology

There has always been an ebb and flow of jobs and skills. Are things really worse now or is this hype?

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. Traditional roles are being replaced or evolving and therefore require a different skillset. The rapid expansion of high speed broadband and smartphone use has accelerated this revolution. As a result there are a greater number of jobs in emerging areas in digital technology such as data science, cyber security, digital marketing and mobile and web development. Globally, this demand cannot be met by the current supply of skills.

What practical steps can companies take to prepare for the jobs that don’t exist yet?

Organisations need to start to hire based on competencies such as critical thinking and adaptability, in order to bring in people with agile mind sets who can develop their skills as an organisation requires. Far too often we see organisations looking to hire the “finished product” with the technical skillset to do the job today. If there is a need for someone like this, companies are normally better off bringing in a contractor with subject matter expertise for a short period of time, whilst they upskill their existing staff to do the job on an ongoing basis.

What does all this mean for teenagers who are currently putting the building blocks in place for their future careers?

Teenagers need to accept that most of what they are learning in school and college will be outdated by the time they get their first full time job. They should be looking for opportunities to get practical experience, whether it be via a personal project or work experience that will prepare them for the world of work. As a recruiter we see a much quicker speed to competency in a job from individuals who have experience outside of academia before taking on their first full time job.


Sarah Hernon is Principal Consultant at Right Management

There has always been an ebb and flow of jobs and skills. Are things really worse now or is this hype?

The current status isn’t any better or any worse, but it is different. With the uncertainty of what is to come [in the UK] following the Brexit referendum, we have seen some degree of hesitancy in organisations making hiring decisions, which has naturally had an impact for organisations who are competing in the “War for Talent”. We know from our recent research Talk The Talk: How Ongoing Career Conversations Drive Business Success, that career development is a number one priority for 60% employees.

Cyber security, is a fast developing area within the IT sector which has not been impacted by this hesitancy. With 45% of companies not having “security” in any of their job titles, this is a skills gap that they are keen to address. This is likely to lead to a significant skills shortage where demand will outstrip supply and individuals with these skills will be demanding salary increases. This is a fundamental shift for organisations and the type of skills they need to be thinking about for the future.

As the speed of technological advancement increases, so does the need for organisations to respond. Businesses should look to cultivate an agile workforce with the right skills and be prepared to adapt to these requirements quickly, in order to avoid losing talent to their competitors.

What does all this mean for teenagers who are currently putting the building blocks in place for their future careers?

For teenagers looking to enter the IT sector and start building a career, it is imperative they are prepared for what is likely to lie ahead of them in a fast paced, evolving landscape.

Many IT grads now go straight into start-ups, where 10 years ago they joined major blue-chip companies. Within this sector it is now also more common for employees to be based from home and have a line manager who is remote. Being able to demonstrate grads can take responsibility for their own motivation and learning is important in this environment. For example, through keeping up to date with advancements in their industry.

What we are also seeing in the IT sector is a greater need for entrepreneurial skills, a strong sense of ownership and a resilient and flexible approach to change. It is important for teenagers to consider how they can demonstrate these transferable skills in job interviews by drawing on experience in their studies and work experience. This will start with how they market themselves through, for example, using a different style CV - one which is functional and skills based and demonstrates projects they have worked on and the value they added.

Young people should also think about how to build their personal brand early on, particularly on professional social media sites such as LinkedIn. As this is an incredibly effective tool for building networks and learning about the industry, connecting with recruiters, industry leaders and potential employers.”


James Smith is Managing Director of Networkers Technology Recruitment

There has always been an ebb and flow of jobs and skills. Are things really worse now or is this hype?  

Disruptive technologies have always been part of life; think how steam engine trains were replaced by their electronic equivalent. Perhaps the rapid technological change coupled with the effects of globalisation creating intense competition has led to a surge in demand especially in the IT industry where new solutions are constantly required in order for businesses to stay ahead. At Networkers, we are seeing this putting more pressure on companies to find the skilled workforce who are up to date with the latest technologies, which is a huge challenge and indicates that perhaps skill shortages really are worse than they have been before.

The current skills shortage is a result of the lack of students choosing Information Technology at degree level, because they’re not being given enough information at school/college that would allow them to see the creative, inspiring and varied opportunities that a career in IT could bring. Educating our future workforce on the basics of technology (e.g. Programming or Security) will mean that they’ll be more adaptable to change as it happens.

What practical steps can companies take to prepare for the jobs that don’t exist yet?

Upskilling and training staff with the latest technological developments is one way to ensure that they are flexible to adapt if a new disruptive technology were to be introduced. From the clients we partner with at Networkers, I know that companies staying ahead of the game are the ones constantly scanning the market on the lookout for new disruptive technologies that could be a threat to their business.

A long-term approach would be for the technology industry to take the bull by the horns, lobby the government to increase its’ focus on improving IT within the educational system which in turn would put the UK at the forefront of technology on a global scale.

What does all this mean for teenagers who are currently putting the building blocks in place for their future careers?

Although it may be daunting to train in technologies without a job at the end of the tunnel, teenagers do have the opportunity to be one step ahead of the current workforce. They have the time and are in the right institutions to learn. It is more of an issue for the existing workforce who will be looking over their shoulders at the younger generation who are highly trained and have been brought up in a technological world so may be a threat to their job in the future.


Also read:
Can we prepare for the jobs that don’t exist yet?
Preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet: Academic perspective
Preparing for jobs that don’t exist yet: Business perspective


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