Research shows that graduates must develop these skills to future-proof themselves
Automation and artificial intelligence will drastically change the future workforce. Source: Tim Gouw/Unsplash

A new research analysis which tabulated data from 20,000 keywords in entry level job postings has revealed the top skillsets that will continue to be sought by employers in the not-so-distant future.

The research was conducted by sales recruitment specialist Pareto Law and done across 15 industries, analysing a broad range of soft skills which are less likely subject to automation.

According to the report, “using data pulled from job boards, graduate resources and public bodies, we’ve identified several skills areas that recruiters for entry-level roles should prioritise when looking to ensure their talent base can adapt to potential workplace automation.”

To find out what forward-thinking employers are looking for in the next-generation of tech-savvy talent, researchers compiled information from online listings for entry-level roles from across the workforce, then cross-checked keywords to see what connections and themes emerged in their job requirements.

“While there was a strong demand for various qualifications both academic and vocational, we looked closely at soft skills – the kind of personal qualities and on-the-job experience that allows prospects to work effectively with other people.

“While robots, programmes and algorithms allow businesses to work faster and more efficiently, it’s these unique personal traits that arguably keep the wheels of business turning.”

The top five “most desired skillsets for entry level graduates’ jobs across the UK workforce” were found to be relationship-building (19 percent), having a positive and professional attitude (17 percent), communication skills (15 percent), being business-minded (12 percent), and being organised (10 percent).

This was followed by attention to detail (7 percent), problem solver (6 percent), independent (5  percent), flexible (4 percent) and data and analysis (3 percent).

The research also showed that different industries prioritise different skillsets. “Graduates entering Accounting, Banking and Finance sectors should be aware that strong communication skills are a top priority for employers. This was reiterated in the Property and Construction sectors.”

For sales and recruitment/HR, employers were more likely to pursue graduates with a positive and professional attitude. “Sales had almost double the mention of positive and professional attitude compared with communication.”

As manufacturing is one of the industries projected by PwC to most likely be impacted by automation, the study found that “employers in Manufacturing and Engineering industries are looking for graduates who can build relationships/be a team player and can problem solve.”

The analysis by Pareto Law was built on a report from the McKinsey Global Institute which suggested that soft skills are becoming more crucial, as the growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to cause mass displacement in the job market.

“Developments in technology could reduce the number of ‘predictable’ tasks, such as data entry, being done by humans. In addition, a 2019 report by the Office for National Statistics revealed that nearly 1.5 million jobs in England are at risk of automation.”

While many fear that automation will render work done by human beings meaningless, this latest research compounds the idea that it just means the graduates need to ‘future-proof’ themselves with skillsets that cannot be achieved by automation.

The impact the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) will have on the future workforce has been the subject of many debates and discussions.

Methods of learning such as memorisation and standardised testing are becoming outdated as humans will no longer be needed for tasks that require these type of skills in the future – there will be robots for that.

Universities are increasingly preparing students for the future workforce by incorporating more practical learning within course structures.

They are offering students work experience opportunities such as internships, industry-linked projects, networking opportunities, and more, so they can develop the soft skills needed in a future fueled by automation and new technologies.

Even on a K12 education level, schools around the world are adopting 21st century learning methods to teach kids how to develop problem-solving, collaborative thinking, and critical thinking, to prepare them for the future.

Pareto Law is also offering training courses to ensure graduates are equipped with the necessary skills to succeed.

Jonathan Fitchew, CEO of Pareto Law, said,  “With the graduation season upon us we wanted to help graduates understand the skills they’ll be expected to have when applying for entry level roles in 2019 and beyond.

“While traditional ‘hard’ skills are still important, with technology impacting jobs in an unprecedented way, it’s clear that graduates need to be strengthening their soft skills to prepare for the future of work.”

Liked this? Then you’ll love…

3 rules for choosing a college that you should know about

Why we still need to study humanities in a STEM-focused world