Category: Technology

Mind The Gap… Engagement Through To Filling The Gaps?

Currently ‘Women in Tech’ is a real buzz phrase, however, it is important to make it clear that it shouldn’t be about ticking a box; who you are or where you are from, it should ALWAYS be about how good you are at your job. The current and future workforce needs to be supported and encouraged to work to their strengths and skills, building a career around these in order to drive innovation forward.

Start At The Start

Years ago, when I was at school, a computer system informed me that I was going to be either a nurse or a teacher – neither of which were careers I had any desire to explore further. However, that was the end of the conversation, and there wasn’t any further consideration for skills I had already developed or interests I had. Whilst it is clear that career guidance has advanced since then; there is still an expectation that you make your career choices at 14 years old through the GCSE’s, A-Levels, and the degree you study at University. This is an unfair expectation for a child to know what job they want to do in ten years’ time; when we don’t even know what jobs will look like in two to three years.

There needs to be a comprehensive engagement process for our future workforce – sparking their interests and exploring how their skills and hobbies will be vital to future industries – a future that without a doubt will include technology.

As per McKinsey’s 2018 report on Employee Experience, Millennials are certainly a factor. They comprise ‘30% of the population and by 2025 will represent 75% of the global workforce ’. Interest will surely spark innovation for our future workforce and innovation is now a vital tool in technology.

Don’t Fall Behind With Technology

By 2030, the UK faces the potential of three million jobs being left unfilled (Consultancy UK). This stems from an aging population, the disruption Brexit may cause to the workforce coming from Europe; and a general lack of skilled workers. In addition to this shortfall, McKinsey states that ‘by 2030, we will be spending 41% more time using advanced technology skills compared to what we use at the moment’; and that the ‘need for advanced IT and programming skills could grow as much as 90%’ in that time
(McKinsey report). Therefore, in order to try and combat this shortfall, and demand for specific skills; it is imperative that technology becomes part of the school curriculum alongside more traditional subjects.

Another thought is that Artificial Intelligence and Automation will provide a way of filling some of this shortfall (Consultancy UK) – however it is claimed that ‘over a third of IT decision-makers in the UK’s largest financial services companies are not ready to implement the technology into their business’ ( World Finance ). Organizations need to invest and focus on re-training and up-skilling the current workforce to make way for the future way of working.

So Where Are The Biggest Skills Gaps?

Having recruited across the tech sector for the best part of a decade, Barlow Search has been able to become experts within the technology space and understand what organizations are looking for in their candidates. Marek Brazier-Kobus, MD at Barlow Search, regularly discusses with clients the skill demands companies are facing “Technology is moving so quickly, it is an almost impossible task for humans to keep up. Clients are constantly looking to blend the incredible skills of the next generation with the
experience and knowledge of implementation that the current workforce has. Connecting our clients with the next Johanna Konta of the tech world, someone to combine both strategy and skill is always a challenge for us”.

It is also about expanding skills to cross-connect industry or interest areas, combining hard and soft skills “More often we see highly skilled technical candidates learning a foreign language, alongside specific project management training in a bid to move into global strategy, a wise move in my opinion as technology is allowing global working to be much more accessible”.

According to LinkedIn who recently analyzed hundreds of thousands of job posts to find the top in-demand skills; ‘creativity, persuasion and collaboration’ are the top soft skills; and ‘cloud computing, AI and analytical reasoning’ are rated as the top hard skills in 2019 (CNBC report).

Embracing change: Tech in hospitality and retail

As lockdown restrictions in the UK begin to ease, we are all wondering what a post-covid landscape may look like. Nearly all industries have been impacted by the pandemic and many have been forced to rapidly embrace change, devising innovative solutions to unprecedented challenges. Two of the most impacted customer-facing areas, retail, and hospitality, have found themselves struggling to meet customer requirements safely and efficiently.

Research by Deloitte indicates that the pandemic has accelerated the rollout of technology within organizations. Tech previously viewed as a bonus is now considered a serious source of competitive advantage. As non-essential
shops and services begin to open their doors, we thought it would be interesting to look at the key emerging technology trends.

Unsurprisingly, data from the Office of National Statistics show that online shopping has risen 33% throughout the pandemic. As shops reopen, high street retailers are creating innovative apps to reduce face-to-face interaction hopeful that this will boost footfall. Ikea’s smartphone app utilizes virtual reality technology, allowing customers to view furniture in their own homes before they visit the store. Similarly, Sainsbury’s is trialing a ‘virtual queuing system’, allowing customers to queue via a smartphone app from a remote location.

In a bid to meet customer requirements and comply with government guidelines many shops are integrating innovative checkout experiences. Research by GlobalData found 35% of consumers view in-store contactless services as a necessity and 48% want to order food in a restaurant using
their phone. This has lead to a surge in technology advancements, supermarkets are rapidly growing their Scan as you Go services and Amazon is about to launch a trial run of contactless high street stores.

Another key trend is the use of AI-powered chatbots. Chatbots can interact with consumers in real-time and provide 24/7 customer service, reducing the need for human interaction at times where dialogue is more important than ever. Research by GlobalData also shows that one-third of customers are comfortable interacting with robots. This highlights the potential of technology to minimize human interaction throughout the retail and hospitality sectors.

Reactions to the pandemic have demonstrated that adaptability and agility are crucial for businesses to survive. Technology has already played a vital role in allowing businesses to adapt to the new normal and this looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.