How to gain the skills of the future when they don't exist yet

Predicting the future is never easy – few of us are lucky enough to have a working crystal ball and, while hindsight may be a wonderful thing, foresight is not so reliable.

However, it’s a skill that the rest of the business expect HR, L&D and recruitment practitioners to have: to be able to look into the future and accurately predict the shape of the workforce that will enable an organisation to meet its strategic goals. 

What’s always been a difficult job to get right looks set to become even more difficult – thanks to profound changes to the way we work over the next decade. The shift to a hybrid workforce – in which people work seamlessly with robots and algorithms in an environment optimised for technology – will see the end of many established job roles and the emergence of many more new ones. A sizeable chunk of these new job roles – and the skills needed to fulfil them – don’t currently exist, and they pose a new challenge for the people tasked with making sure organisations can thrive in a fast-paced and disruptive future.

As the pace of technological innovation continues to soar, it’s almost impossible for recruiters to foresee which skills will be most important and valued in the future workplace, especially when some of them don’t yet exist. According to our Human to Hybrid research, 50% of the HR and recruitment leaders we talked to expect to see increased demand for new skills and roles that don’t exist today over the next five years.

What is clear is that digital and data analytics skills will be vital, as will soft skills such as the ability to lead and manage change. 77% of HR and recruitment leaders expect to see the number of roles requiring people to collaborate with artificial intelligence (AI) increase over the next five years.
Organisations will need to take a proactive approach to developing strategies to expand and future-proof their talent pools, based on their understanding of what makes an optimal workforce, and to accessing the best talent based on their potential, behaviours and willingness to learn rather than their past experience.

This is where specialist recruitment agencies, such as Capita’s Veredus executive search and interim management arm, can help organisations to recruit people for their potential rather than their past experience, and to recruit across sectors to find hidden talent.

They’ll also need to be willing to do more to develop the skills they need internally, through recruiting apprentices and making it easier for existing employees to upskill by creating a culture that encourages and values learning. Just over half (54%) of HR and recruitment leaders expect to see an increase in demand for apprentices over the next five years.

Approaches such as our Employed Resource Model and Novus can give organisations fast, flexible access to the skills they’ll need in the future, whether that’s highly-skilled and experienced consultants or new graduates.

Finding and engaging the right talent will be crucial to success in the hybrid workplace. Now’s the time to start thinking about what makes an optimal workforce in your organisation and accessing the talent you’ll need to thrive. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that, if you leave it too late, you’ll get left behind.


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