The current business environment in the UK is full of uncertainty. Not only is Brexit looming, which has already seen disruptions to the way many businesses traditionally operate, but as we continue to see the rise of AI and automation in the workplace, it is not surprising that we have also seen an increase in the concern about what that might mean for the job market.
While the effects of automation on recruitment in the UK are still yet to be fully realised, the trends in the market suggest that the adoption of this technology will continue to grow at an unprecedented pace. This means that both employees and employers alike, need to be thinking about what this will mean for their business, now.
Jack Garret-Jones, Deputy Agent for the Bank of England, spoke at our Michael Page Finance breakfast seminar on the topic of the 2018 Economy at The Sheraton Skyline Hotel on the 24th of May 2018. He provided some interesting insights into the current economic climate and the potential impacts of automation on those looking for new job opportunities and those looking to hire.
Automation, skills and hiring in the UK
As automation is expected to be adopted into business processes faster than any other technology previously has and hence, take on more roles traditionally managed by people, it is important to determine which skill sets may need to be reallocated in the business and what new skills will be needed following the changes.
Our recent Future Firsts research has highlighted that while most people don’t believe their roles are at risk of being automated, they do believe that more jobs will disappear than new ones created. While automation will perhaps displace a number of jobs as it takes on more transactional roles, there will be an increased need for people with the technological skills to implement, monitor and manage, automated processes and systems. It is also quite likely that the automation of many roles will, in many cases, free up budget and capacity for employees to do more customer-facing work and allocate more resources into providing an improved customer experience. This will mean we will see more people doing hearts and minds work, and actually interacting with customers.
The implementation of automation within any business, in any industry, will require adaptability. Automation will spur new innovation and an entirely new landscape of jobs will emerge. Upskilling and reskilling are going to be the keys to success in the future job market. The way businesses choose to implement the use of machines for their workforce will change fundamentally to ensure the highest level of efficiency by playing to each other’s strengths.
Preparing for automation
In a one-to-one interview, on the topic of preparing for automation, Jack had this to say: “The world is always changing. So it’s always sensible for businesses to look at their own activity and markets to think about any investments they might need to make for the future.” He continued to explain that the kind of things that might be useful to consider include: “What takes up the time of your people, what processes could be more efficient if done by a machine, thereby freeing-up staff to do other higher-value-added things, and what is the cost of changing the mix of employing people versus paying for technology?”
This is important because, as it is well known, this is not the first time a new technology that promised to change the business environment significantly, has been introduced. In the past, those companies that have chosen to stick to their original business model in an economic environment calling for newer and improved products, have found it very difficult to compete and remain profitable. In light of this, Jack highlighted, that: “History tells us that there are cases where you need to look ahead and you need to think about what’s coming down the line towards you in order to make sure that you maintain competitiveness.”
Employers should consider the talent within their team and where, if necessary, people could be retrained, upskilled or relocated, to retain their staff as change begins to alter their processes and consequently the skills required to work in the business. On the other side of this, professionals should be looking ahead and thinking about the skills that they currently possess and where there is an opportunity to grow their skill set according to the demand in the market.
If you would like to discuss how we can help with your recruitment processes please contact your local office today. Alternatively, submit a job spec and one of our specialist consultants will be in touch.
For more management tips be sure to browse our advice here or, for insight on recruitment in your industry view our specialist advice.
Manager, Michael Page