Robotic process automation (RPA) made it to the list of 20 hottest skills in demand in the freelancer market, according to the Upwork Skills Index. Reports such as this one indicate the direction that the gig economy is moving towards when it comes to the kinds of skills that are in demand and those traditional skills that were once on top of the list but are now not needed in a dynamically evolving workplace..
Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways from the Upwork Skill Index 2019 Q1:
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is gaining momentum
We know that companies are looking for specialists in new technologies that can help them digitise their operations. So naturally, while several of the skills that made it to the list were technology-based, the fact that robotic process automation made a debut at the third position indicates that people who understand automation, robotics, big data analytics and IoT will be the most sought-after in the future. Traditional roles in the tech industry, like that of a software developer or a programmer, will give way to specialised roles wherein employees will have to work alongside intelligent machines and systems to create new digital solutions.
Furthermore, a requirement for experts in Salesforce, Magento and Shopify indicates that an increasing number of businesses are using digital platforms for marketing and sales. Even the requirement of people who can create compelling explainer videos and podcasts is a nod to the growing clout of digital marketing. These trends signal towards the fact that the fourth industrial revolution is gaining momentum and companies are swiftly digitising their existing business, employee and customer processes.
Continuous learning is the way to go
Another recent report by Upwork found that younger managers are prioritising reskilling their workforce as 96% of the managers from the millennial and Gen Z generations stated that training their workforce is important. This sentiment is also clearly visible in the list, as the inclusion of employee training and leadership development indicates. A third of the respondents, however, stated that individuals should be responsible for their own skill development and shouldn’t be dependent on employers or educational institutions. Nonetheless, the fact that organisations are turning to freelancers to help them develop these skills in their workforce shows that formal learning programs are falling short of their intended objectives.
There is a very noticeable realisation among all the stakeholders that employees will have to embrace a culture of continuous learning in order to possess relevant skills in the future. The fact that an increasing number of employers are prioritising the training and development of their workforce, and more importantly, trying new L&D models indicates that we are clearly past the time when intensive and experiential learning was limited to the initial stage of one’s career. To thrive in the future of work, both the employer and the employee need to ensure a robust culture of continuous learning, innovation and experimenting.
Knowledge and resources are becoming more accessible and affordable
Last, but far from the least, is the fact that access to resources is becoming easier and affordable. The rise of dedicated online universities, education platforms and communities of professionals, means that the transfer of knowledge has simplified. As pointed out by Harvard Extension School to attain employable skills in today’s world. Unlike traditional educational degrees, these methods take less time, incur a significantly lower cost and provide flexibility in the learning schedule.
Additionally, organisations are considering the upskilling and reskilling of their workforce as a high priority and bearing the cost for the same. Companies all over the world have initiated programs to train their employees, particularly in the IT sector, and are also helping employees personalise their own learning experiences. Others have created internal learning platforms and online universities that help employees attain skills of their choice and at their own pace.
The fact that the demand for the top 10 skills in the Upwork Skill Index grew nearly 370% year-on-year shows that there is a robust demand for individuals who are well-versed with new tools and technologies. Furthermore, this demand is not being met through traditional recruitment and hiring channels as organisations are increasingly turning to freelancing platforms. Employees should waste no time in identifying the most relevant skills in their industry and choosing a suitable learning approach. Most importantly, they need to be open to learning new skills, try new tools and question existing processes in order to future-proof their careers.