The workforce of tomorrow will be different than the workforce of today. It might not be as big of a difference as it is between the workforces of the 1950s and the 2010s, but the change will still be there.
And people will notice it.
Recruiters will notice because they will have to find new ways to fill open positions with people who possess the skills that will be in demand. Job searchers will notice because they will have to work on acquiring those skills. And employers will notice because their bottom lines will suffer if their staff lacks the necessary skills.
What Are the Drivers Behind these Changes?
According to the 2016 report, The Future of Jobs, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the major drivers of change come from both the demographic shifts and the technological advances. The report identifies flexible work, the rise of the middle class in emerging markets, climate change, and political volatility as the main demographic and socio-economic drivers. The technological drivers that are shaping economies and desired skill sets include mobile internet, cloud technologies, big data, and new energy technologies.
Future Work Skills 2020, a report published by the University of Phoenix’s Institute for the Future (IFTF), identifies the increasing lifespan of humans, rise of smart machines and systems, the increases in processing power, the new media ecosystem, a globally connected world, and superstructured organizations as their key drivers of change. The same forces that are driving innovation, disruption, and change in general of whole economies are the ones that are driving the workforce skills requirements.
The Skills of Tomorrow
The Future of Jobs report predicts that the desired skill set across all occupations will change by 2020 in a way that will increase the share of skills that were considered non-essential in 2015. Social skills such as people management, negotiation, and coordination with others will be joined by emotional intelligence. Creativity will trump quality control. And critical thinking will be even more important than it was in 2015.
The Future Work Skills 2020 report identified sense-making, social intelligence, novel and adaptive thinking, cross-cultural competency, computational thinking, new media literacy, transdisciplinarity, a design mindset, cognitive load management, and virtual collaboration as the in-demand skills of the 2020 economy.
Both of these reports show that, in the near future, we can expect a shift in demand towards social and emotional skills. The former also suggests that this will create some troubles for recruiters.
How Does This Affect Recruitment?
Employers will have many different ways of ensuring that their staff is capable of meeting the demands of the markets in 2020. They’ll be able to train existing employees, to adopt new HR practices that increase mobility and job rotation, and to increase collaboration with educational institutions. But sooner or later, they will have to turn to recruitment to satisfy their needs for emerging skills.
In WEF’s report, recruiters were asked to grade the ease of recruitment in 2015 and to say how they expect it to change by 2020. They gave marks on the scale from +2 – very easy, to -2 – very difficult. Recruiters across eleven different job families marked the ease of recruitment in 2015 with a negative mark. And only those who recruit for business and financial operations predicted that their job will become slightly easier in 2020. The rest weren’t so optimistic.
However, the same technologies that are causing all the disruption and making it difficult, even now, for recruiters to do their jobs can also be used to make their jobs easier. Recruiters can and routinely do utilize social networks to track and contact talent. And they can also harness the power of big data, machine learning, advanced language processing, and other technologies that power or are powered by artificial intelligence, and improve their recruitment efforts. They do that by utilizing applicant tracking systems (ATS).
The Helping Hand of Automation
Applicant tracking systems are not a novelty in the recruitment field. These software packages, which allow automation of a number of tasks that would otherwise be performed by recruiters, have been around for a while. In their earliest and most stripped-down form, applicant tracking systems were little more than software that was used to index and store job applications. Further implementations of emerging technologies gave these systems the capability to process and grade applications, making them even more valuable to recruiters.
They still have problems, like the inability to scan images and the fact that they can be confused by unusual formatting options. By 2015, ATSs were deemed as a major source of hires, but not a particularly good source of important hires.
But it seems that ATSs might have a bright future ahead of them. In 2016, Technavio published a comprehensive forecast of the applicant tracking systems market in the United States for the period between 2016 and 2020. According to the Technavio’s analysts, the ATS market in the US is expected to grow more than 7% annually by 2020. They saw the growth propelled by the Software as a Service model of cloud computing, as well as the advances in resume parsing technologies.
While the forecast bases the future success of ATSs on improvements of existing technologies, they are not the only thing that will ensure that the applicant tracking systems will perform significantly better across all metrics. Better parsing might increase the changes for a specific skill-denoting keyword to be found, and it might increase the accuracy of applicant tracking systems’ to grading results. It can also speed up the recruitment procedure and make it more cost-efficient. But when it comes to attracting top talent and keeping it engaged in the process, relying exclusively on quick processing and accuracy will not be enough.
Futureproof Applicant Tracking Systems
Futureproof applicant tracking systems which will be able to identify applicants with key skill sets and keep them engaged in the recruitment process will have to integrate additional technological solutions. Applicant tracking systems will have to keep the applicants who start the application process from opting out early. Relationship management will be key to attracting and keeping new talent with the desired skill set engaged.
Luckily for recruiters, employers, and the new, socially skilled workforce of tomorrow, tools that can help all of them are already being developed. New solutions, such as recruitment chatbots, are not only better at extracting the desired information from the applicants and creating a more detailed applicant profile, but they also give them a better application experience. And bad application experience is one of the major drawbacks of implementing applicant tracking software into the application process. Innovators such as JobDiva are already offering solutions designed to benefit both the recruiters and the candidates, and make communication between them easier and more consistent.
If recruiters really want to find a way to search efficiently for the skilled workforce of tomorrow, they should adopt the solutions the workforce find useful. Because, no matter how sophisticated an ATS can be in its core, a workforce that has developed social and critical thinking skills will not appreciate companies that are relying on legacy applicant tracking systems, and denying them a better application experience.
Donna Moores is a professional recruiter and a writer who aims to help people find a job of their dream. She has spent more than 5 years to gain an outstanding HR experience within biggest industries and businesses. Follow her on FB and check out her Professional Blog.