Two-thirds of NI employers say lack of skills needed to benefit from automation tech

  • Photo: John Moore of Hays recruitment in NI

    Nearly two thirds of employers in Northern Ireland are investing in automation to help improve productivity in their workplaces, according to a new survey released by Hays recruitment group.

    However the research found that most firms in NI say they lack the skills needed to get the full benefits from new technology.

    The 'What Workers Want 2019 Report' surveyed 14,500 people, including 500 in Northern Ireland, where the company has three offices.

    The report stated that despite clear evidence of investment in digital transformation and automation, employers are struggling to find the right blend of technical and soft skills to support implementation, with close to half of the NI firms admitting this is the case.

    Among local employers, 69% said digital transformation was a key priority for their organisation. 61% said they are already investing in or plan to invest in automation, and 48% believe this investment in technology will allow employees to add greater human value to their organisation.

    While there is enthusiasm for digital change, 56% of all employers expect a lack of skills among their current staff to be a barrier to implementing new technology and 33% said they are experiencing moderate to severe skills shortages when trying to hire people who have the right skills.

    Only 7% of organisations said they had access to all the skills needed to make best use of automation technology.

    The biggest technical skills gaps within existing teams are reported in project, change management and analytics. In regards to soft skills, the top gaps within existing employer teams are critical thinking and people management, followed closely by problem-solving.

    The managing director of Hays in Northern Ireland, John Moore said: “It's encouraging that employers are taking the chance to invest in automation and also that workers believe automation will let people contribute more of their human value to an organisation and are open to change. But it is also a concern that employers currently lack access to the right skills to make the best use of this technology.

    “To overcome skills shortages employers need to adapt their recruitment strategies to focus not only on technical skills and qualifications but also hiring professionals who have the right soft skills and open mindset needed to make automation and digital transformation a success. Soft skills to look out for include critical thinking, communication and emotional intelligence.

    “Employers need to consider different recruitment channels and techniques they can utilise to engage with the right professionals, and ensure they are promoting their investment in automation, which appeals to candidates.”

     

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    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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