Study reveals the skills needed to succeed in an automated workforce

With automation increasingly impacting the UK workforce, a new study has revealed the top skills graduates need to future-proof themselves.

Relationship building, having a positive and professional attitude, and communication skills were the most commonly listed by employers.

The research, conducted by sales recruitment specialist Pareto Law, reviewed 20,000 keywords in entry-level job postings across 15 industries and analysed a broad range of soft skills, which are less likely to be subject to automation. The resulting list included problem-solving, flexibility and attention to detail as key areas that graduates should focus their skillsets.

Pareto Law’s analysis builds on the report from the McKinsey Global Institute which suggests that soft skills are becoming more crucial, with AI 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.

The analysis revealed that the top 10 most desired skillsets for entry-level graduates’ jobs across the UK workforce are:

1. Relationship building (19%)
2. Having a positive and professional attitude (17%)
3. Communication skills (15%)
4. Being business-minded (12%)
5. Being organised (10%)
6. Attention to detail (7%)
7. Problem solver (6%)
8. Independent (5%)
9. Flexible (4%)
10. Data and analysis (3%)

According to a 2017 ONS report, young people are more at risk of having their jobs automated than those aged 35-54.

Jonathan Fitchew, CEO of Pareto Law, commented:  “With automation impacting the workforce in a variety of ways, from robots reducing physical labour requirements to AI taking on tasks such as data entry and financial processing, those entering the workforce need to future-proof themselves. This process starts with developing soft skills – skills that cannot be imitated by AI.

“Businesses need to know the difference between value added by automation, and value added by humans, and make sure they can derive the best results from both.”