Kiwi employers are anticipating that the continued growth in automation will drive an increase in headcount over the next two years, requiring more people and more skills.
This is in contrast to the current public debate that as companies go digital, jobs will be increasingly at risk. However, it is clear that automation is happening at different speeds across the country, with key industries and functions likely to suffer while others gain.
These are the results from ManpowerGroup’s latest report – Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution – which surveyed 20,000 employers across 42 countries, including more than 650 in New Zealand, on the impact of automation on headcount, the functions most impacted and the soft skills that are both of greatest value and hardest to find.
In response to the impact of automation, 20 per cent of New Zealand employers expect to grow their workforce while 64 per cent plan to maintain current headcount over the next two years. This signals that digitisation will be a net gain for employment across New Zealand in the near-term, so long as job seekers have the right blend of skills required in today’s digital age.
Looking inside organisations, the impact of automation varies by function. Frontline and Customer-Facing roles, as well as IT functions, come out on top with anticipated headcount increases of 19 and 18 per cent as companies start investing in the strategic combination of both human and digital skills. Contrary to this, Manufacturing & Production and Administrative & Office functions expect decreases of 17 and 15 per cent as a result of automation.
With more and more New Zealand employers undergoing digital transformation, skills needs are constantly changing; making it difficult for companies to find the talent they need.
The rise in consumerism and the value companies now place on customer service is increasingly evident and human strengths are more valued than ever before. In fact, more than half of New Zealand companies surveyed say communication skills, both written and verbal, are the hardest-to-find and the skills they now value most, followed by problem-solving and collaboration.
ManpowerGroup New Zealand general manager Paul Robinson believes that while today’s in-demand skills are quickly evolving in response to digitisation, this latest data demonstrates the positive impact that automation can have on the New Zealand labour market.
“Automation doesn’t have to be a bad thing for people and employers,” says Mr Robinson.
“Employment in New Zealand remains upbeat, making now a critical time for employers to embrace digital change in order to identify the right mix of skills and talent to augment, rather than compete with, technology.”
“As employers, we can no longer rely on a spot market for talent. In today’s tech-driven working world with skills needs changing rapidly, New Zealand employers need to start thinking outside the box to help their employee’s up-skill and remain employable. We need to create clear career paths and develop faster re-skilling programs in order for companies and their talent to digitise at market speed.”
The best blend of high-tech and high-touch will be the combination of core human strengths with technical and digital know-how. Robots Need Not Apply: Human Solutions in the Skills Revolution offers practical recommendations to help employers adjust their workforce strategy to prepare for digital transformation.