SINGAPORE (Jan 3): The fourth industrial revolution is upon us to transform the way we work, with the inevitable automation of certain jobs and aspects of roles; the creation of entirely new roles; and the demand for the latest skills set to increase.

This is according to Hays CEO, Alistair Cox, who, in his latest blog post on LinkedIn, offers his thoughts on the jobs and skills that he expects to see in 2018 and beyond.

Looking ahead, Cox sees an “explosion in new roles around artificial intelligence (AI) and data and a relentless demand for specific soft skills” as opposed to “sensationalist headlines predicting the demise of the human worker”.

As such, he suggests that employers future-proof their talent pipelines in order to remain competitive, while also recommending jobseekers to keep their skills relevant so as to remain attractive in the job market.

This includes preparing for more AI and data-related roles such as AI developers, especially those able to apply AI technology in a consumer context and enhance an organisation while optimising business processes.

Cox also sees a sharp rise in data scientist, data analyst, data artist and data visualiser vacancies around the world as these professions, his view, “makes sense of a business’s data, helping to turn zeros and ones into actionable insights”.

Despite the increasing focus on new technologies and their related roles, the CEO believes comparatively traditional tech and non-tech specific vocations – particularly skilled software developers and project & change management professionals such as project managers and business analysts – will continue to be relevant.

This will come as companies prepare for regulatory changes across several industries while continuing to focus on digital transformation.

“Java and scalable programming languages remain preferred [among software developers], although there is still a need for C++ fluency despite increasing migration from legacy systems,” says Cox.

Demand for data protection officers are also to expected to spike in the near future, especially with the upcoming implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018. Similarly, Cox foresees increased demand for cyber security officers as organisations face a growing need to defend against cyber-attacks in an environment of new technologies.

“Across the boardroom table you may also start seeing chief automation officers as businesses recognise AI’s revolutionary potential, but remain alert to the unforeseen impact it could have on their business model. While the fierce battle to innovate quicker than competitors is resulting in an increase in chief innovation officers whose role is primarily responsible for managing the process of innovation and change management in an organisation,” he adds.

Regardless, Cox maintains that soft skills such as creativity, collaboration, human interpretation and communication skills will continue to be in demand – and even set jobseekers or organisations apart from their respective peers.

“In this fast-moving world, a willingness to learn and adapt has never been so important… Of course, upskilling where possible, whether by formal courses or on-the-job learning, is always advisable to future-proof yourself,” says the CEO.

“Disruption in the world of work is indiscriminate and everyone must take the time to stay relevant. This change shouldn’t be feared though. It comes with a host of new opportunities for both businesses and candidates, and I believe 2018’s jobs market will generate far more excitement than concern.”