Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2019

Top Recruitment Sectors for growth in 2019

We are now into our sixth year of this blog series since first writing our amazingly popular blog post Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years. With over 25,000 views this remains our most popular blog post ever.

Our annual blog has become almost as popular and with huge uncertainty in the UK, Europe and Globally we expect this year to be no different

In 2012/3 when we made our prediction for Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years the top five were:

  1. Information Technology
  2. Engineering
  3. Energy, Oil and Gas
  4. Healthcare
  5. Emerging Technology application

We think it is safe to say that anyone who went into these sectors in 2013 would be very happy with their decision. Only Oil and Gas in the energy sector has seen any major issues with “renewables” now becoming the major area for growth in this sector.

UK and Global Economic Dynamics

As with previous years it’s important for us to outline the economic climate we are basing our predictions on. With the UK less than thirteen weeks away from leaving the EU and with no certainty of the agreed route of exit, or even if Brexit will actually happen, the future is very uncertain.

Remarkably the UK economy is proving highly resilient and GDP growth this year is still projected to be 1.2%. We believe that once the Brexit future becomes clearer we will see growth return to 1.6-1.9% later this year, as We see companies currently holding off investment until the medium term future become clearer.

In the EU growth in Q3 of 2018 in Germany and France surprisingly started to falter though still above the UK.

In the US and the rest of the world uncertainty remains over trade with China which has seen some economic slowdown in both Asia and America. We believe that despite Trump’s confrontational style of negotiating a deal will be done and we will see growth in these regions return. The IMF currently predict the US GDP will grow 2.6% and China’s GDP 6.2% in 2019.

For more details check this article from the Guardian Newspaper UK economic growth tipped to be slowest in Europe next year

Global Recruitment Thought Leaders

This year we have launched Global Recruitment Thought Leaders (GRTL) which is an original initiative that investigates the future of work and the future of talent recruitment.

The GRTL project is pioneered by myself, a global influencer, business expert, employment futurist and owner of growth consultancy Selling Success; and San Sunner, the founder of REC- Social, a social media management company that focuses exclusively on the talent recruitment sector.

The world of work as we know it is being transformed by the exponential growth of revolutionary technology and considerable shifts in workforce demographics. In order to remain competitive in this modern era businesses need to remodel their company culture and approaches to leadership, implement contemporary tools, and foster environments that keep up with the times and create value. As a result, business leaders and their recruitment partners face considerable challenges adjusting to this future reality.

GRTL sets out to explore the new paradigm and dissect its impact on the future talent landscape through in-depth discussions with industry leaders across a variety of sectors. The purpose is constructive debates, informative interviews and knowledge sharing with global thought leaders will provide an innovative hub for business owners to assimilate fresh ideas in preparation for the future.

As a Top 10 Global Influencer our MD, Ian Knowlson is very optimistic about what the future holds explaining that “technological advancements possess the potential to help us solve many of the major issues facing mankind in the twenty-first century such as cheap sustainable energy, global skill shortages, an aging population, food and water security, inequality, lack of economic and employment opportunity and climate change.”

With speculation about automation and artificial intelligence rendering people as inadequate for work in the future, business leaders need to take ownership of the narrative and be clearer in terms of their communication about prospective plans and objectives.

The introduction of the GRTL video series delivers a knowledge base that helps all business stakeholders to understand and adapt to the changing landscape, while firmly positioning themselves for long term success!

To find out more information about Global Recruitment Thought Leaders and journey into the future world of work and talent recruitment visit www.globalrecruitmentthoughtleaders.com

Top five sectors for high growth in 2019

A businesswoman is holding the 2019 year numbers inside the night city image picture with distinct wireless connections above.

No5 Construction

For 2019 we have placed the construction sector below the level we would typically rank it due to Brexit uncertainty, but it is still in a healthy state and represents a great sector for recruiters.

There remains a huge shortage of skilled trades people such as bricklayers, electricians and scaffolders to name but three; and in the professional/technical niches quantity surveyors remains one of the hardest skills to source in the UK across all recruitment sectors.

These skill shortages are expected to continue well into the next decade so the medium to long-term outlook for the sector is healthy. In 2018 the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB)

37339383 – construction site, workers and cranes.

reported that the industry will need to find 157,000 new recruits by 2021 in order to keep up with demand. A forecast also in 2018 from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) revealed that over 150,000 construction jobs are set to be created over the next five years, with 15,350 carpenters and 9,350 labourers needed. There will also be a significant growth in a range of professional and managerial roles.

The recent IHS Markit/CIPS UK Construction Purchasing Managers’ Index published in January 2019 indicated “An expected boost from transport and energy projects underpinned a rise in business optimism to an eight-month high in December. Construction sector confidence was also helped by softer input cost inflation and signs of a turnaround in supply chain difficulties from the low point seen last August.”

Tim Moore, economics associate director at IHS Markit, is on record as saying, “levels of optimism remained subdued in relation to those recorded by the survey over much of the past six years, largely reflecting concerns that Brexit uncertainty will continue to encourage delays with decision-making, especially on commercial projects.”

It’s fair to say that but for Brexit we would have ranked this as third in out of the top five sectors for growth this year and it still may end up there if the Brexit issues resolve themselves quickly.

No4 Healthcare

With an ageing population across most of the industrialised world healthcare recruitment is tipped to be one of the top five recruitment sectors for the next decade or so.

The announcement this year of the UK government’s 10-year investment plan of an extra £20b a year by 2023 for the NHS will not immediately flow through to staffing. It is impossible to see, however, that we will not see an increase in demand for both permanent and temporary staffing requirements. What these will be, in terms of the types of staff and the impact of new procedures, technology and processes are also unclear.

57911846 – a motion blurred photograph of a senior female patient on stretcher or gurney being pushed at speed through a hospital corridor by doctors & nurses to an emergency room

What is clear is that all the dials point to with increases in populations, there will be increases in demands for services across virtually every sector with maternity care, mental health, elderly support and earlier detection and prevention of diseases ear-marked for extra investment.

Unless productivity is massively increased by the application of new working practices or technology, the numbers entering employment through huge increased training investment, or massive inward migration into the UK, the skill shortages which currently pervade the NHS are not going away in either the short or medium term.

This means the opportunities for existing suppliers or new entrants remains good. The opportunities for technology providers to support the NHS where new skills such as AI, Automation, Machine Learning and Big Data which are not normally recruited is huge. The challenge here will be to meet the demand in the NHS within their rigid pay bands when the private sector are already paying huge skill premiums themselves.

There is clearly a massive gap and demand opportunity here. Perhaps a creative collaborative solution can be found between the university/training sector, NHS Trusts and the agency providers, which helps to bridge this demand.

We would be hugely interested in meeting and interviewing anyone as part of our new Global Recruitment Thought Leaders video series who has ideas around this.

No3 Engineering

The top three positions are very close with us ranking Engineering in third place purely due to the delay that has occurred with some capital projects due to Brexit uncertainty.

Nevertheless the overall demand is still very high.

In the UK the engineering sector employees 5.6m people — a rise of 5.1% in the past five years. Engineering generates 23% of GDP and has an accelerator effect on the UK economy, as every time a new job is created in engineering 1.7 jobs are created elsewhere in the economy. (Source The state of engineering Key facts 2018) Over 27% of enterprises are in engineering so the sector represents a significant part of the UK economy.

18124171 – two workers at tool workshop

Engineering UK estimate that the economy requires 124,000 skilled engineers to meet existing demand and a further 79,000 engineers to meet demand from new industries and technologies making a demand for 203,000 engineers per year.

Unfortunately we have an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineers so there is not surprise that 46% of employers report recruitment difficulties.

In essence we need more engineers as a nation and with Brexit looming this is becoming a crucial skills gap that we need to address.

It goes without saying that this sector is set for a sustained growth for the next 3-5 years.

The recent KPMG/REC Jobs report indicated that Permanent Engineering demand was the highest alongside Accounting and Finance jobs, which we ranked at No 6, just outside our Top five due to Brexit uncertainty.

Temp/Contract demand was high as employers sought to fill their resource gaps with temporary labour.

No2 Energy, Oil and Gas

This is the first time this sector has made our top three for over eight years due to the oil price which has been so volatile; but the stabilisation of the oil price above the magic $50 a barrel now for over 12 months is seeing a healthy level of investment in the sector, if not in the UK.

Whilst this is not fuelling a jobs boom a dramatic rise in demand for renewables and nuclear in China, the UK and Europe has seen a tremendous demand for skills across this sector.

28354127 – engineers on building site checking plans

Renewable energy capacity in the UK has more than tripled in the past five years and in 2018 overtook fossil fuels for the first time ever.

Between July and September 2018, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants. This would have been unthinkable a decade ago and the rate of growth of renewables means this is expected to continue.

Imperial College London, which compiled the figures, stated the rate at which renewables had been built in the past few years was greater than the “dash for gas” in the 1990s. Dr Iain Staffell, who undertook the research, said: “Britain’s power system is slowly but surely walking away from fossil fuels, and this quarter saw a major milestone on the journey.” The Guardian carried the story and further data is available in their article published in November 2018.

Renewables therefore now produce more than 20% of the UK’s electricity, and EU targets means that this is likely to increase to 30% by 2020.

According to Deloitte “a record 4.9 GW of offshore wind came on line in 2017 across 15 countries, bringing the total capacity to 19.3 GW, mostly located in the UK, Germany, China and Denmark. Offshore energy has reached parity in Germany and Denmark and is projected to do the same in the UK between 2025 and 2030.”

So you will not be surprised to hear that there are huge skills gaps emerging across the sector with over 80% of hiring managers reporting skill shortages as being their number one obstacle to continued business growth in 2018/19.

The Energy & Utilities Skills Partnership, a body made up of 29 leading organisations in the sector, has noted that an estimated 221,000 vacancies will need to be filled in the next decade, brought about through the retirement of 100,000 employees and 90,000 workers leaving to find new roles.

Interestingly enough, according to Taylor Hopkinson Skills Shortage Report the top three countries globally for vacancies in the sector are the UK, China and the Netherlands.

We may not be conventional in our thinking but we believe that in 2019 recruitment agencies operating in this sector will be amongst the fastest growing in terms of revenues, margins and profits; and given that the UK is probably amongst the richest nations in the world for offshore energy opportunities we see the medium term future for this sector as very positive.

No1 Information Technology

When we started writing these blog posts six years ago the term Information Technology and the sector were quite distinct and discreet but today technology pervades all our lives, environments both work and domestic and every profession and walk of life.

This sector is and will continue to be for the next two to three decades the one which will see the greatest skills gaps and the largest opportunities for recruitment agencies to grow in.

There are estimated to be in excess of 600,000 unfilled technology sector jobs in the UK according to the Edge Foundation and this is expected to continue growing at 12% p.a. up until 2024.

A recent study by Spiceworks State of IT where they surveyed 1,000 tech professionals across North America and Europe indicates that the two main drivers are Cyber Security and Artificial Intelligence. This is a great report and well worth a read.

With this in mind we believe the most acute skills shortages in 2019 are likely to be in the following areas:

Cyber security

Cyber security is now in such high demand that experts predict that the global market will be worth $165.2bn by 2023. New research by (ISC)2  puts the global workforce skills gap at 2.93 million with roughly 142,000 in Europe and 500,000 of those positions located in North America.

In the UK Cyber security talent requirements have soared as a result of several high-profile hacks, as organisations demand long-term defence against cybercrime and the annual requirement for permanent and contract IT security professionals has increased by 46%, according to the latest Tech Cities Job Watch report from Experis, the global leader in professional IT resourcing.

Data Scientists

For the past three years Data Scientist jobs have been named by Glassdoor as the No1 sought after skill in the US. In Europe it is estimated that the skills gap is 346,000 jobs with the European Commission estimating that a further 100,000 new jobs will be created by 2020. In addition IBM estimate that data scientists will account for 28% of all digital jobs by 2020.

Essentially there is clearly a huge growth opportunity for recruitment agencies to support this sector over the next few years.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

Gartner is predicting that by the end of 2019 AI will be creating more jobs than it is taking. They indicate that whilst 1.8m jobs will be lost with manufacturing taking the biggest hit, 2.3m jobs will be created through automation in education, healthcare and the public sector.

Full Stack Developers

According to Indeed Full stack developers are among the most in-demand by employers right now in terms of open job postings. Demand is up 600+% over the past three years..

DevOps Engineers

These are rapidly becoming one of the top skills globally with Glassdoor naming them as No2 job in 2018 in the US and with everything moving towards the cloud there seems no let up in demand for these skills.

Python Developers

It’s hardly surprising with the explosion in demand for AI that demand for Python Developer skills going through the roof. Python is now the fastest growing programming language and we see in 2019 an acceleration in demand for Python.

Java/JavaScript Developers

Growth of Cloud technology and solutions mean that demand for Java and JavaScript will continue to grow in 2019. Data from Glassdoor, Indeed and CWJobs all point to this being another growth skill area in 2019. The JavaScript demand is being fuelled by corporate enterprise environments that have a demand for the delivery of compelling interfaces.

2019 Overall Outlook

The outlook for the recruitment sector overall is positive despite the trials and tribulations in the UK caused by Brexit.

In December 2018 the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) annual report indicated that the UK sector is worth nearly £36 billion and is projected to grow in 2019 by a further 4% and 5% 2019/20.

Businesspeople are standing in front of large world map.

“The number of businesses operating in the UK recruitment industry grew by almost 10 per cent in the year to March 2018, totalling 30,430, and the industry employed approximately 115,000 people”

Other figures from the 2017/18 report include:

  • Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of temporary assignments were for 12+ weeks, while one in five (20 per cent) were for 6+ months (compared to 61 per cent and 20 per cent respectively in 2016/17)
  • 85 per cent of contract placements were for 12+ weeks, and 45 per cent of contract workers were on assignment for 6+ months (compared to 80 per cent and 44 per cent respectively in 2016/17)
  • The average value of permanent placements from the wider recruitment industry was £4,238 (up by 6.4 per cent on the average in 2016/17)
  • The average annualised turnover of each temporary/contract worker on assignment was £34,976 (up 20 per cent on the average in 2016/17)

We also see positive signs from the 20-30 clients we work with that the recruitment sector overall is positive and provides a significant contribution to the record employment levels that exist in the UK today.

It may be controversial but we have almost full employment in the UK with record skills gaps in virtually all professional and skilled sectors of the economy.

We appreciate that the large numbers of unskilled people in the UK needs addressing, but compared to the economic challenges that many of us faced during the recessions of the 1980s, 90s and 00s, the outlook is extremely positive.

Accounting Recruitment – A disappearing future?

Accounting Recruitment – A disappearing future?

With the 4th Industrial Revolution well under way and Automation, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence potentially set to displace 7.2 m UK jobs over the next 20 years, many of our clients have started to evaluate the impact on the sectors in which they are operating.

It is not all gloom as it is also anticipated that 7.2m jobs are set to be created according to PWC UK economic Outlook Report .

The challenge is that some sectors are set to fair better than others.

Accounting and Finance is one that some commentators like Frey and Osborne from Oxford Martin University predict will be extensively automated.

 

This interactive graphic from Bloomberg (available on their website) indicates that the following accounting careers are high on the risk of automation

www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-job-risk/

 

But how is this so?

Well the first thing to say is that few commentators are predicting that technology will replace whole jobs, merely automate large numbers of activities that are typically performed by people in these roles. In accounting however a high percentage of the tasks performed by people in these roles are likely to be automated.

If you consider the accounting tools now available from Sage they can now accept direct feeds from business bank accounts and for regular transactions “rules” can be created on how the transactions are to be posted and handled.

Once the rules are created the user merely has to click “ok” to post a transaction. With Sage’s chatbot Pegg, receipts can also be logged, balances checked and notifications set up as simply as texting a friend.

In addition with the governments initiative to “Make Tax Digital” and the accounting software providers responding with automated processes to do this the role of simple and basic accounting is being “de-skilled”.

Where does this leave the Accounting Profession?

44713915 – happy young businessman calculating financial data at desk

 

Well the more senior roles such as Finance Director, Financial Controller, Tax Advisor and Management Accountant that involve the interpretation of accounts or the management of complex financial businesses where critical thinking, risk management and the rationalisation of conflicting issues are all required, these roles are at a low risk of automation. That is because they are performing tasks that are harder to automate and are less rule based.

In addition these roles typically command higher levels of status and responsibility as well as salaries and earnings

One option for displaced workers is simple. Displaced professionals will benefit from training-up and re-skilling themselves into these more demanding and challenging roles.

In fact it is safe to say this is true of most of the 7m workers that are likely to be displaced across the whole of the UK economy. The new roles that will be created will require people to re-skill and retrain themselves and are likely to command higher incomes and will be more interesting and challenging as it is the more mundane and routine tasks that are set to be automated.

For all of us “Life-Long Learning” will be a pre-requisite in the next 10-20 years.

If you are interested to see the wider implications on the rest of employment and recruitment sector then you might wish to read our blog:

 

Future of Recruitment – A Shifting Paradigm for Recruiters

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re85563ada14a9f5fc82f82b42f7c2760

Ian Knowlson Speaks at NPA Worldwide Conference in Cyprus

Ian Knowlson Speaks at NPA Worldwide Conference in Cyprus

 

This week Ian Knowlson is speaking at the NPA Worldwide Conference in Larnaca Cyprus.

NPAworldwide has been connecting independent global recruiting firms to facilitate split placements. NPAworldwide is the oldest recruiting network of its kind, with an international membership of recruiting firms located throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa and the Americas.

Ian will be presenting on speaking about – What will the world of employment and recruitment look like in 2020-2030? What changes are likely and unlikely? Will artificial intelligence and Bots replace everyone and everything? Will recruiters still have a job and if so what will that job look like?

Ian Knowlson will consider the plethora of industry reports and commentaries on the future of work and employment from such esteemed and notable personalities and organisations as Simon Sinek, Elon Musk, PWC, McKinseys, the REC and BIOR. He will discuss and help you draw conclusions on the future of employment 2020-2030.

 

With Ian you will start to make sense of the timeline ahead and how the landscape of employment/recruitment will change. You will start to understand which sectors are predicted to grow and which are forecast to decline. How this will impact both niche recruiters and large-scale global recruiters and the consequences that this will have for those of us planning to be working in the sector during this period.

So the delegates will be invited to join Ian and take a time machine into your future to see if it is one that fills you with dread and fear or wonder, awe and excitement.

Future of Recruitment 2020-2030 – Your Future Starts Today

Future of Recruitment 2020-2030 – Your Future Starts Today

Over the past six to seven years I have written many blogs, many of which have proved hugely popular like Top 5 Recruitment Sectors to be in for the next 5-10 years which has had over 30,000 readers and this years Top Recruitment Sectors for Growth in 2018 .
This blog however is probably my most important as for those of you working in the Recruitment Sector either acting as agencies, internal recruiters or HR professionals the next 15-20 year promise to be the most dynamic, volatile and revolutionary in the history of our sector.

The level of change that our industry and the “world of work” will go through is to some people incomprehensible.

As business growth coaches we are challenged when supporting our clients with their three to five year growth plans in having to predict the impact of many of these changes upon their market sectors a task we have been doing now for nearly 10 years.

If you are looking to develop your career in recruitment or sell your business in three to five years, what the world will look like and how resilient your market sector will be in five to ten years is a major consideration.

This question therefore is one we consider and reflect on weekly with our clients as more information and reports are circulated.

Our blog therefore represents our snapshot in time (Spring 2018) and could be different in six months time as revelations about the Future of the World of Work unfolds.

Recruitment Industry Agency Models

To us there are essentially three agency models, which can be blended or broken down and modified to reflect certain sectors.

• Niche recruiters
• Generalist Recruiters
• Managed Services (MSP/RPO/NV/Mast Vend)

Increasingly the market is polarising around the Niche and Managed Service models with the generalists struggling to maintain margins, market differentiation and profitability.

Niche Recruiters

The Niche model, in its various guises, leverages the numerous skills-gaps that exist in the UK and Global economies and has two drivers,

• Find the rare skilled candidates and gain a degree of exclusivity
• Sell the rare skilled candidates to the highest bidder

Niche recruiters have been the success story of the past 15-20 years and are dominated by SMEs. They leverage their status as niche sector experts and master their ability to find and secure any skill in that sector. It is fair to say most of our high growth agencies are all niche agencies.

Increasingly these niches are becoming narrower and deeper. The expression “inch wide, mile deep” has been used many times to describe them.

These agencies have become very effective at maximising their fees and making healthy returns.

Managed Service Recruiters

These operate at the opposite end of the market and work on volume and at a lower transaction price. They industrialise process and are constantly seeking productivity gains to driver down delivery costs, as well as increase their quality service thus generating extra profit.

The cost of acquisition of staff for their clients is constantly failing as they invest greater and greater sums in automation. AI and chat-bots greatly excite this sector as it gives them even further opportunities to increase productivity gains. It also raises the bar for the smaller operators as entry to this market becomes more complex and costly. That said this too might shift with automation. We will have to see.

These suppliers have become very effective at exploiting their clients employer brands as they become very effective “one-stop-shops”.

At the same time the agencies in this sector are seeing their market under attack from Clients In-sourcing strategies where In-House Teams take these contracts back inside and TUPE over the operational staff that are delivering these solutions.

Generalist Recruiters

Increasingly the directors of these businesses are moving their companies more towards operating as a collection of niche businesses under one-roof as they see their margins squeezed by the ever-aggressive Managed Services Businesses and as they struggle to provide expertise that the niche agency suppliers bring to bear.

In certain localities across the UK we see a future for these generalists if they focus on getting close to the SME business sector in their locality but in most locations I think they will struggle unless they specialise and move towards the niche model.

Key Reports

This is a dynamic landscape with new reports out each week but the key reports we focused in this blog are:

PWC – UK Economic Outlook 2017 -Workforce of the future
Forrester – The Top Emerging Technologies To Watch: 2017 To 2021, various
World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs
Frey & Osborne – Future of Employment & US & UK Labour Stats
Nesta/Pearson – The Future of Skills: Trends impacting on UK employment in 2030
Deloitte – (2016) Automation transforming UK industries
REC – The future of jobs Report
• Elon Musk – Various Interviews

Key Headlines

The world of work and the future of recruitment is going to be a highly dynamic market and there is no overwhelming consensus on the cumulative effects of change as to what the future will look like.

There is general agreement however on some elements like what are the major technological dynamics that will affect the market:

• Automation
• Augmentation
• Artificial Intelligence
• Autonomous Vehicles
• 3D Printing

It should also be noted that there are other effects, which also feed into this market dynamic and these are:

• Longevity and ageing societies
• Changing Nature of Work, flexible working, remote working
• Climate change and natural resources
• Geopolitical volatility
• Consumer ethics and privacy issues

Automation

Automation affects employment in 2 ways:

Displacement Effect

• Negatively – by directly displacing workers from tasks they were previously performing.
• Tend to be low skilled roles

Productivity Effect

• Positively – by increasing the demand for labour in other industries or jobs that arise due to automation
• Tend to be high skilled roles

An analysis by Deloitte of ONS data suggests that the impact of automation is already being felt in sectors where a high proportion of jobs have a high chance of being automated. (Taken from REC – Future of Jobs).

In the UK most of the major jobs losses between 2001-15 have been in Manufacturing 720,000 with the largest number being created in Health and Social Care 1.1m.

Interestingly Professional, Scientific and Technical appeared in the top three for both jobs lost and created. Deloitte’s analysis concluded that all of those lost had a high chance of automation whilst of those created 88% had a low chance of automation.

Augmentation

This is where technology is not replacing workers but supporting or augmenting their skills and performance to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.

A good example of how automation is augmenting healthcare jobs can be seen from the work of Prof. Paul Leeson of Oxford John Radcliffe Hospital and his colleagues who have developed a system that they claim could save £1.1 billions of pounds by enabling the heart diseases to be picked up much earlier.

The technology will start to be available to NHS hospitals for free this summer and Prof Paul Leeson –”Data indicates that the system had greatly outperformed his fellow heart specialists.” Of 60,000 heart scans carried out each year, 12,000 are reportedly misdiagnosed at an estimated cost of £600million.

This story appeared in a Daily Telegraph article in 3rd Jan 2018.

Artificial Intelligence

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica :

Artificial intelligence (AI), the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. The term is frequently applied to the project of developing systems endowed with the intellectual processes characteristic of humans, such as the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from past experience. 

This will remove a whole host of repetitive jobs across business and industry as can be seen later with the role of accountants and book keepers.

The World Economic Forum – Future of Jobs report, which looks at the 2015-2020 period and predicts which sectors are likely to see the most jobs losses.

Again this report like the Deloitte report lists Manufacturing and Production jobs high up behind Office and Administrative jobs. This time it lists Education and Training and Sales Related jobs as being the least in danger of automation. Once again Professional Business and Financial Operations jobs along with Management roles featured amongst the lowest at risk of automation.

Finally the work of Frey & Osborne from Oxford Martin University has been heavily quoted by many commentators and an interactive graphic produced by Bloomberg enables readers and recruiters to enter a job type and see the likely risk of automation to the role. We’d encourage you to review key jobs that you recruit for to see their likely risk of automation over the next few years.

The link is www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-job-risk/

Bloomberg quote Frey & Osborne:

Researchers at the University of Oxford, for example, estimate ” that nearly half of all U.S. jobs may be at risk in the coming decades, with lower-paid occupations among the most vulnerable.”

Their graphic for example shows that Accountants and Auditor though well educated and well paid were at a 94% risk of their jobs being automated.

Whilst this has been questioned by many you only have to look at the accounting tools now available from Xero or Sage to understand how through AI and machine learning this can easily happen.

As one of Sage’s Top 100 Global Business Influencers I contacted their product development people to see if they had any thing they could offer me to help explain this and I am delighted to say they shared with us details on their chatbot Pegg.

Pegg:

“..is your smart, admin assistant that lives in your mobile, so you can record your expenses anywhere, anytime, without hassle or entering paper receipts.”

“Because of clever integration, simply message Pegg with your expenses and it automatically accounts for it in Sage One.”

With bank feeds now entering all your credit card and bank account transactions directly into Sage One and with rules on how expenses from specific suppliers are handled, the whole process of book-keeping and receipting your transactions can be simplified and semi-automated. It becomes very easy to see how with further AI this whole accounting process could be fully automated in the next 5-10 years.

In the UK Carl Frey, co-director of the Oxford Martin programme on technology and employment at Oxford University, estimates that as many as 35 per cent of jobs in the UK are at risk of loss.

The message is similar.

The top ten of jobs most at risk of computerisation feature

With the top ten jobs at least risk from computerisation being

Source – Taken from REC – Future of Jobs

Again health and social care as well as sales professionals feature very strongly.

Autonomous Vehicles

Much has been said and written about this subject in recent months.

Elon Musk the CEO of Tesla Inc.claims totally autonomous vehicles will be on the roads in 2019 and they will be 10x safer than human drivers.

In November 2017 the UK Government announced Driverless cars will be on Britain’s roads by 2021 as a result of sweeping regulatory reforms that will put the UK in the forefront of a post-Brexit technological revolution as reported by the Guardian

And in the same months Volvo signed an agreement with Uber to supply them with tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021..

Then in December 2017 Tesla launched their new “Semi-Truck” whose power and torque are vastly superior to all diesel engined vehicles.

What this means for employment in the transportation industry who knows as many working in the sector refuse to see any significant changes in the next 10 years. This nevertheless offers a huge opportunity for a disruptive business model so lets wait and see.

However the PWC UK Economic Outlook also estimate that transportation and storage (56%), manufacturing (46%) and wholesale and retail (44%) have the highest risk of automation the overall UK economy has a 30% risk of jobs being automated.

This compares very favourably with Germany 35% and the US 38%.

Human Qualities

Some of this discrepancy between the various reports can be explained by the unique qualities that we as humans have.

The reports are generally in agreement that the following are the human qualities that are the areas that machines will have difficulty automating:

• Emotional Intelligence
• Critical thinking
• Collaboration
• Emotional Support
• Original thought
• Abstract concepts
• Conflicting concepts
• Persuasion

The future is also not all bleak as clearly there are many new jobs being created. The IDC sees 2.1m jobs being created in the US by technology augmenting workers in the world of CRM over the five years to 2021.

AI has the potential to make many jobs more productive and remove a lot of the mundane and boring elements of jobs.

A key conclusion worth noting is how to protect yourself from unemployment which is listed as education.

The World Economic Forum estimates that those with GCSE2 have a 46% risk of losing their jobs whilst those with degrees are only at a 12% risk.

What we are going to see are jobs being defragmented and the tasks that can be automated being undertaken by machines and tasks that requiring humans being consolidated into new roles.

In fact the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2016 estimates that 65% of primary school children will end up working in jobs that don’t exist yet.

Future Scenarios

Part of the reason for the variation in predictions comes form the fact that there are a number of scenarios being considered.

There is a great Infographic from Salesforce, which illustrates this:

In the first scenario they call “False Alarm” new jobs emerge slows and current jobs are displaced slowly so nothing changes much. Personally I see this as the least likely of the four options.

The second scenario called “Jobs Crisis” has current jobs being displaced quickly creating unemployment and due to inertia, public sector intervention, private automation tax and heavy resistance to new technology new jobs are created slowly.

In the scenario called “New Economy” current jobs are displaced quickly and new jobs are created quickly. We would need to invest in training and retraining. For some this is exciting and dynamic but for many this would be too chaotic and could be very difficult for large parts of our society to cope with emotionally. This scenario if too rapid could see violent responses from some sections as well as huge increase in mental health issues for society.

The final scenarios “Labour Shortage” characterised by investment in training would see new roles created fast but traditional jobs displaced slowly. This would impact UK economic growth and could be catastrophic in the long run on our global competitiveness.

Personally I believe “Labour Shortage” and “New Economy” are the most likely scenarios and believe we will spend time potentially in both of these over the next 10-15 years.

Impact on Recruitment Process

As well as the sectors in which we supply and operate all this new technology will also impact the process of recruitment itself.

Source – Taken from REC – Future of Jobs

• AI – Will Increasingly be used to identify and sift candidates, for screening, compliance and skill verification
• Video Interviewing – Will become common as it removes geographic boundaries and speeds up the process
• Collaborative hiring – Tools to enable individuals to collaborate objectively in the process whilst operating in different geographic locations and time zones will become common, particularly amongst multi-nationals.
• Gamification – Technology to enable candidate testing during process
• New Resourcing Platforms – New ways of working to deliver efficiencies

All of these process changes and more will increasingly be used in the next 10-15 years. In many cases they will require high levels of capital investment taking them out of range of the SME Niche and Generalist Recruiters further adding ammunition to the armoury of the large MSP/RPO Recruiters enabling them to further penetrate the large corporate markets and drive down costs and increase profits.

In addition large corporates may choose to use these tools to insource these large contracts and deliver the efficiencies back into their own businesses.

The Consequences for future of recruitment

Threats to the future of your Recruitment Agency

If we reflect on the evidence that has been presented so far what we can conclude is that as well as destroying traditional job roles and job families the new technology will create new job roles and new job families of jobs.

As we have seen large numbers of roles are likely to disappear in transportation, manufacturing and wholesale/retail sectors. In addition some of the professional sectors will see many menial and semi-skilled roles automated. A lot of these roles will be the creation and preparation of data.

At the same time jobs will be created in health and social care sectors, education as well as highly skilled roles in the high tech, scientific, technical and professional sectors. Many of the professional, technical and scientific roles will be in the interpretation of data where there is often no clear right or wrong answer and it requires a careful balance.

The “Job-Crisis Scenario” discussed above presents a huge threat to recruitment agency businesses large or small with traditional jobs displaced quickly and new jobs created slowly. In this case we would see large-scale unemployment, which would be good for no one or any economy.

Another threat for many agencies would be huge market disruption that prevented consultants tracking where the skills-gaps were or being able to service them. It would also prevent employers businesses being able to plan and predict their future and would make recruitment highly volatile and uncertain which in turn would disrupt growth and economic expansion.

A highly dynamic situation where skills-gaps were created and disappeared too quickly would make the conditions almost impossible for niche consultants to develop their skills and deliver a high quality and reliable service to employers.

Finally another threat to all recruitment agencies would be if the dynamic changes disrupted long-standing customer relationships removing continuity and allowing their competitors to move in.

Opportunities in the future for your Recruitment Agency

In the opposite scenario “Labour Shortage”, where new jobs emerge quickly and current jobs are displaced slowly the opportunities for niche agencies to benefit will be huge. Significant opportunities would also exist for generalist or Managed Service Recruiters as well.

Also The “New Economy” scenarios would also create sizeable opportunities for recruitment agencies to thrive through servicing their clients needs by continuing to leverage their skills and expertise either as a niche recruiter, generalist or Managed Service Recruiter.

In-house recruiters in both scenarios would have a key role to play/

In situations where these skills gaps are created rapidly then highly skilled expert recruiters who know their niches well or have strategies to recruit at volume should prosper.

Such a dynamic market is likely to create situations where agencies with less agility or expertise could see their customer relationships disrupted or lost to agencies that are better able to respond to the rapidly changing market conditions.

It proffers the opportunities for some agencies, (niche, generalist or MSP/RPO) to strike up Strategic Partnerships with some employers who seek continuity of service and supply.

Finally it also creates a huge opportunity for all agencies to offer consultancy to employers on how to create new roles that can easily be resourced and build resilient resourcing strategies that help businesses deliver ambitious growth plans.

It does call for a different type of selling however. Agencies will need to learn “consultancy sales” skills as well as strategic relationship sales skills.

It may require different sales professionals to the ones currently employed by some agencies which some might find extremely challenging.

Conclusion

No one knows what will actually happen and to a degree there is still time for us to avoid many of these pitfalls and maximise the opportunities that this new industrial revolution will create for us as the recruitment community as well as society as a whole.

One thing however is certain and in the words of Bob Dylan,

The times they are a changing.

As recruitment agency owners, directors and talent leaders one thing you would be wise to do is not ignore what is happening and wait for the future to become clearer before acting.

The reason….because it may never be clear.

We are moving into a world of constant and dynamic change.

My advice to all our clients is monitor, observe and where you feel there is a clear shift respond to opportunities or mitigate any risks to your business.

This may mean:

• Diversify your niche sectors.
• Move form being a local generalist to being more niche focused.
• Recruit consultants who are more responsive to their clients and the market.
• Seek out employees that are more flexible and innovative.
• Build resilient client relationships.
• Review your business operating model.
• Reduce your office network.
• Change your CRM/Mid-office technology platform.
• Review your consultant recruitment and training strategy.

It may also mean in the medium term moving away form sectors such as:

• Logistics
• Warehousing
• Manufacturing
• Low/semi skilled temps

It could mean exploring sectors such as:

• Hi-Tech
• Health and Social Care
• Education
• Technical/Professional

The recruitment agencies that thrive and prosper in the next 15-20 years and therefore the entrepreneurs who go on to succeed will be the “fittest”.

To paraphrase Charles Darwin –

Those entrepreneurs whose businesses that “have the closest” market “fit, are therefore the ones that will leave the most copies of themselves in successive generations” and are the ones that will survive.