What skills will your business need and how can you prepare for them?

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Technology is changing at a quicker rate than ever before. It's bringing great improvements but with it, a changing demand on our current workforce. The skills market is very likely to be different in the next ten years compared to now. The NESTA future of skills survey estimates that 1/5th of UK employees are in occupations that will likely shrink in demand by 2030 with new skills in demand by businesses [1]. But most importantly, what skills will your business need in the future and how is Birmingham City University looking to address this?

What with robotics and AI likely to take away many manual processes in the work environment, Mckinsey Global Initiative latest report suggests that cognitive, social and emotional intelligence alongside upgraded technological skills are set to be the three core areas demanded of human employees skills in the near future. So what do these areas consist of and how can you prepare?

Technological skills

Technology is likely to become more engrained in our businesses than ever before. Reports estimate there will be a 5% increase in the number of technological skills hours spent in businesses by 2030 from 11% to 16% as digital technologies take over the running of a modern business [2]. There will be a growth in demand for everything from basic to advanced IT skills to data analysis, engineering and research.

Social and emotional intelligence

With more and more practical activities due to be automated by software or robotics, businesses will need to excel in areas that can’t be so easily replaced including so-called ‘soft-skills’. These include your workforce’s ability to communicate, negotiate, empathise, adapt and learn continuously on the job.

Higher Cognitive skills

With Judgement and decision making set to be the number 1 skill in demand in the UK in the next ten years, developing higher cognitive skills in your workforce is key. These include critical thinking, complex information processing and quantitative and statistical analysis. These skills may seem difficult to nurture within your business however, developing a training model around problem and challenge solving may help your workforce to refine and hone these new skills.

So how can your business meet these needs?

You may feel that you’re alone in meeting these changes, however there are various talent development programmes and business support options available to you through your local university.

Recruiting for future technological skills

Hiring software developers, engineers and data scientists is likely to be the norm for growing businesses in the future, so how can you get ahead? Birmingham City University's School of Computing and Digital Technologies offers access to a variety of capable graduates with experience in working with the world's leading technology providers from Cisco to Microsoft. Building links with these students through offering placement opportunities or hiring fresh graduates will support you in beginning to nurture talent that could play a key role in your business in the future.

Improving your social and emotional intelligence with tests and certifications

On the job-training and interview tests focused on reviewing emotional intelligence are just two ways your business can monitor and improve its existing ‘soft-skillsets’. The Global Emotional Intelligence Test (GEIT) – based on Goleman’s four quadrant emotional intelligence model, is just one of the assessments you could use within your business.

Birmingham City University’s Graduate+ awards scheme looks to prepare students for this ‘soft-skills’ demand. Running in parallel to their formal classroom learning, the award framework offers opportunities to develop new soft-skills through volunteering opportunities, study abroad activities and extra certifications including Duke of Edinburgh awards.

Developing your higher cognitive skill set with HLSM

Birmingham City University’s Higher Level Skills Match (HLSM) offers an account managed programme that helps businesses to identify and address their skills need through a number of upskilling workshops, as well as providing access to students and courses. Businesses can even provide challenges to students for them to solve, helping to develop their problem-solving skills and solve your needs at the same time.

Looking for more ways to access our future talent? Find out how Birmingham City University can help you.


[1] Nesta. (2017). Nesta: The Future of Skills - Employment in 2030. Available: https://www.nesta.org.uk/report/the-future-of-skills-employment-in-2030/. Last accessed 18th Feb 2019.  

[2] Mckinsey Global Institute. (2018). Skill Shift: Automation and the Future of the Workforce. Available: here Last accessed 18th Feb 2019.

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