New Challenges, New Skills
Updated: Jul 10, 2020
Soft skills still top of the requirement list for tech employers, according to data from online career and hiring marketplace Digital Profile. Learn which skills your business needs to stay competitive and profitable.
* This story was originally published on Silicon UK by David Howell
Silicon in Focus
Nelson Phillips, professor of strategy and innovation at Imperial College Business School.
What are the top three technical skills businesses struggle to find with new recruits?
The most common complaint I hear at the moment is a lack of people who understand the application of data analytics to business problems. While there is an increasing number of people trained in analytics, the use of this to real-world problems is still in very short supply. This includes technical people who understand business but also business grads with an understanding of how to use data analytics.
The second most common complaint I hear is actually a lack of people who know how to lead technical teams effectively. While this might not seem like a specialised skill, leading technical teams is a unique skill and people who can do this are also in short supply.
The other big area is coding. This might seem like a problem we should have solved by now, but there continues to be a real lack of people with coding skills in the talent pool.
Are the right technical skills being taught at university and other educational centres?
I think the universities are doing a better job, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. The rate of innovation in technology means that the topics taught in many programmes do not include essential and relevant topics leaving companies to train their new recruits when they start work. In business schools, in particular, there is still a lot of content that doesn’t reflect the growing importance of data analytics and AI in management decision making.
Are CTOs turning to re-skilling their existing staff to meet their needs?
Yes, this is an essential and ongoing process. The new opportunities made available by new technological advances are often best accessed by taking technical people with experience in the company and with a company’s legacy technology and upskilling them.
How is automation impacting on businesses when they are looking to recruit technical staff? Are they asking whether the technology could replace a new recruit?
It is really mostly about hiring new people who can work with technology rather than technology replacing people. It is about technology augmenting staff not replacing them.
What will technical skills be needed in the near future?
I believe that the most significant area of growth lies in applications of AI in business. While applications are increasing, we are not really yet very good at training people who have the technical skills and business understanding to really have an impact.
The people with an understanding of the technology are not really very clear on the applications and people who understand the applications are often weak on the technology. Training the ambidextrous individuals that organizations need is currently being developed, but I believe we will have a huge demand before we have the training programmes in place.