Human resources in the digital age

September 09, 2018 - 09:00

With the rapid development of various technologies in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, it is increasingly challenging for employers to find talent with the right competencies.

Simon Matthews, country manager, ManpowerGroup Vietnam, Thailand and Middle East. Photo Courtesy of Manpower Group Vietnam
Viet Nam News

With the rapid development of various technologies in the era of the fourth industrial revolution, it is increasingly challenging for employers to find talent with the right competencies.

If they do not have the skills to operate efficiently, they will lose their competitive positioning.

During the fourth industrial revolution, many traditional and repetitive jobs will be done by robots and artificial intelligence. Therefore, workers should constantly improve their skills to adapt to the changing trend.

Simon Matthews, country manager, ManpowerGroup Vietnam, Thailand and Middle East, speaks to Việt Nam News about this and more.

Which industries in Việt Nam will have the largest manpower need in the industry 4.0 era?

In Việt Nam, from now until the end of 2018, employment in IT, manufacturing, engineering and retail industries will be in most demand. The IT sector will need around 500,000 workers by 2020. The hottest positions, according to ManpowerGroup Vietnam’s survey, are sales, marketing and technical. Sales and marketing positions account for a high proportion of recruitment demand, more than 60 per cent in the FMCG sector, and more than 50 per cent in the manufacturing sector. Sales (FMCG and technical) positions are relatively difficult to fill because both sales skills and technical knowledge are required.

Automation and AI are expected to replace blue collar workers in the industry 4.0 era. What about white collar workers? Are there threats to them from new technologies?

With the rise of automation and AI, most routine tasks will be done by robots or AI. Blue collar workers have faced this transformation first, and now office roles that are routine or add less value to customers are under greatest threat of automation.

According to a study titled “Skill Revolution 2.0” by ManpowerGroup, administrative, office, finance, and accounting functions expect the highest headcount decrease in the next two years because of new technologies.

In the financial services sector – companies including financial services, real estate and insurance – demand for IT workers is expected to be five times greater than for accountancy staff.

What skills will help people develop their careers and not be replaced by automation and AI?

In the changing world of today, human strengths that help people augment machines and stand out in the digital age are soft skills. ManpowerGroup’s report Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution, which surveyed 20,000 employers in 42 countries on the impact of automation on headcount, says the best blend of high-tech and high-touch will be a combination of core human strengths with technical and digital know-how. More than half of the companies say communication skills, written and verbal, are their most valued soft skill followed by collaboration and problem-solving.

The good news is that, as companies go digital, in the near-term most will need more people, not fewer. Eighty six percent of employers globally say their headcount will increase or remain flat in the next two years because of automation.

What should organisations in Việt Nam do to address the talent shortage?

According to the “Talent Shortage Survey 2018” by ManpowerGroup, the global talent shortage has reached a 12-year high since 2006, not because of a lack of workforce but due to the workforce lacking skills that are in demand. So, to prepare the talent for the world of work today and in future, employers should apply a four-part strategy:

A. Build - Invest in learning and development to grow your talent pipeline

B. Buy - Go to external markets to find the best talent that cannot be built in-house in the timeframe required

C. Borrow - Cultivate communities of talent outside the organisation, including part-time, freelance, contract, and temporary workers to complement existing skills

D. Bridge - Help people move on and move up to new roles inside or outside the organisation

To prepare the future workforce, what soft skills should be prioritised for Vietnamese students?

Globally, according to ManpowerGroup’s Talent Shortage Survey 2018, the top 10 hardest skills to recruit are Skilled Trades (electricians, welders, mechanics), Sales Representatives, Engineers, Drivers, Technicians, IT, Accounting & Finance, Professionals (project managers, lawyers, researchers), Office Support and Manufacturing (production and machine operators). So we can see that industry 4.0 requires people with the right skills sets to be employable.

Finding talent with the right skills mix is a challenge to all businesses: employers say problem solving, communication, organisation, and collaboration are the hardest skills to find in candidates. Therefore, the following soft skills should be priortised for Vietnamese students :

Source: “Skill Revolution 2.0” by ManpowerGroup

What do you think about Việt Nam’s human resources and what human resource development strategy do you suggest for meeting the human resource needs of industries?

Việt Nam has a young, competitive and hard-working workforce of nearly 56 million people. However, as I mentioned above, Vietnamese workers, like their global counterparts, lack the necessary mix of soft skills and hard/technical skills that help them stay employable.

Importantly, the ability to learn is a required skill today because the world of work is changing continuously and the life cycles of skills are shorter than ever. Therefore employers should focus on soft skills training as core human strengths together with technical and digital know-how for their human resources. The workforce, on the other hand, should be ready to accept any opportunities of re-skilling or up-skilling at work or should themselves find suitable training courses to pursue.

The future of the world of work will be very positive, especially in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). From 2018 onwards, when members of the AEC gradually give the workforce more opportunities to find work freely within the region, the jobs competition will become hotter. At that time those who have the appropriate skill sets to adapt to the new working environment will call the shots. It can be said that skills will become a new currency in the Human Age. — VNS