Blockchain, analytical reasoning and cloud computing are the world’s most in-demand skills, according to professional networking site LinkedIn.
The social media platform said rapid technological advances are providing opportunities for those skilled in artificial intelligence and scientific computing.
And the massive proliferation of customer data is driving demand for workers who can analyse and interpret reams of information.
The combined effect of such developments is that workers will need both technical expertise and strong interpersonal skills to thrive in the future workplace, according to Sean Gallagher, director of Swinburne University’s Centre for the New Workforce.
“Increasingly, for workers to succeed in a digitally transformed workplace, i.e. the digital economy, they need a combinatorial skill set, and that’s a combination of highly technical expertise … and increasingly sophisticated social competencies,” Dr Gallagher said.
“So, yes, you may choose to become an expert in crowd computing and become a very deep expert. There’s obviously going to be a lot of skills in that space.
“But at some point digital technology is going to be able to do significantly more and more parts of your job.”
This is because many tasks across the economy are vulnerable to automation as they are simple and repetitive.
Robots already conduct the lion’s share of repetitive work in the manufacturing sector, for example.
And AI will increasingly take on routine cognitive work.
Dr Gallagher said workers must consequently focus on retraining and learning new skills.
“And a lot of that comes down to companies. I believe there’s a growing importance for companies to create the right culture in place that values collaborative work,” he said.
“So bringing workers of diverse backgrounds to focus on problems that are over the horizon: What are the problems that we can’t see and emerging opportunities that we don’t know? Where are the challenges coming from? We should increasingly focus on those, because that’s what technology cannot do.”
Dr Gallagher’s comments come after professional services firm Deloitte Access Economics claimed in a September report that workers should focus on “skills of the heart” as they are harder to automate.
One of the problems we face, though, is that “schools, universities and workplaces have mainly focused on developing and rewarding technical skills,” according to Deloitte senior analyst Maria Delgado.
“Therefore, the supply for soft skills is being outstripped by the growing demand,” she said.
Added to this is the fact that those who lose their jobs to automation will initially be unsuited to the jobs it creates.
University of New South Wales economics professor Richard Holden said the answer to this “has to be serious retraining to give people the skills to get a new job”.
“If that is not enough, it may mean the government providing jobs,” Dr Holden writes.
“This kind of jobs guarantee is being talked about by mainstream economists and centrist politicians for the first time since the 1930s, when it formed a key part of the US government’s New Deal response to the Great Depression through the Works Progress Administration.
“If the automation of the 2020s turns out to be a “robocalypse” of self-driving cars, automated baristas and AI-driven professional services, it might indeed be needed.”