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Hybrid Jobs Need Hybrid Skills

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
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The importance of big data and analytics, the intersection of design and development, and the evolving compliance and regulatory landscape are just a few factors influencing the growing need for hybrid skills in the modern workforce, according to new research by Burning Glass Technologies.

The Hybrid Job Economy: How New Skills Are Rewriting the DNA of the Job Market explores how the rise of automation, artificial intelligence, and digital tools are making jobs more complex and demand a hybrid of hard and soft skills. For instance, LinkedIn's 2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs Report predicts businesses can expect to see a 190 percent global increase in jobs that demand workers skilled in AI.

To glean insight into this trend, Burning Glass examined nearly a billion current and historical job postings. The analysis revealed that one in eight job postings is now highly hybridized, encompassing more than 250 occupations across multiple industries. What’s more, hybrid jobs are growing at twice the rate of the overall job market and are 20 to 40 percent higher-paying than their more traditional counterparts.

Essentially, hybrid jobs are specialist roles (such as data scientist, security analyst, product manager, and marketing manager, to name a few) that require a wide set of skills from different fields, including design, user experience, data analysis and interpretation, business acumen, and so forth. For instance, traditional marketing and public relations roles that need creative and social skills to succeed now require executives to have core capabilities in data analytics. On the flip side, IT roles, which are typically considered highly technical jobs, now need people with advanced problem-solving, research, and collaboration skills.

Bottom line: Although technology is an important part of this trend toward hybrid jobs, it is not the only driving force. “It is the need to apply soft skills, analysis, or management to technical disciplines that creates a hybrid role,” explains Burning Glass. For example, its report notes that hybrid jobs are 34 percent more likely to require high collaboration and teamwork skills, and 20 percent demand upgraded problem-solving capabilities.

“Despite being some of the most technology-driven and data-enabled jobs, they are also, in a way, more human,” adds Burning Glass.

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Unfortunately, there are current gaps on both the technical and soft skills front. In fact, 78 percent of talent development professionals expect their organizations will have a skills gap in the future. That’s according to Bridging the Skills Gap: Workforce Development and the Future of Work, the sixth skills gap report produced by the Association for Talent Development. In addition to reviewing research from outside ATD, the whitepaper explores findings from the 2018 ATD Skills Gap Survey, a 19-question survey of 304 talent development professionals whose companies are headquartered in the United States.

ATD defines a skills gap as “a significant gap between an organization’s current capabilities and the skills it needs to achieve its goals and meet customer demand.” An organization with significant skills gaps risks failing to meet customer demand and may not be able to grow or prepare for the future of work.

A lack of communication and interpersonal skills is a main concern across industries, identified by 66 percent of respondents as the top missing skill set in the ATD study. This was followed closely by critical thinking and problem-solving skills (65 percent). Managerial and supervisory skills came in as the third highest need for organizations at 61 percent. Slightly more than half of ATD survey respondents (52 percent) said their company faces a current leadership skills gap, and 47 percent expect one in the future.

“Hybridization exacerbates skill gaps,” writes Burning Glass. “By its very nature, the process makes existing talent supply pipelines obsolete, or even irrelevant.”

The report suggests that “training up existing workers may prove a far easier solution for employers than fighting over the small pool of workers.” However, this presumes employers are aware of how their talent needs are likely to evolve. Talent development professionals will play a key part in helping their organizations anticipate and plan for these emerging roles.

Additionally, various roles in the field of talent development itself fall into the hybrid jobs category. Data analytics and visualization? Check. User design and development? Check. Communication and interpersonal skills? Check. Compliance and regulations? Check. Digital tools and AI? Check. Simply take a quick look at some of the job openings on the ATD Job Bank to see these same skills highlighted. So, just like workers in other specialized roles, TD professionals need a clear sense of where their field is headed and the pathways to career advancement for hybrid jobs.

About the Author

Ryann K. Ellis is an editor for the Association of Talent Development (ATD). She has been covering workplace learning and performance for ATD (formerly the American Society for Training & Development) since 1995. She currently manages ATD's Community of Practice blogs, as well as ATD's government-focused magazine, The Public Manager. Contact her at rellis@td.org. 

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