Top five skills of tomorrow
Top five skills of tomorrow
Advancing technology means the future of finance can feel like something of a mystery. But for businesses, planning ahead is vital; particularly when it comes to recruitment and employee training. With the industry continually developing, what top skills will financial services employees need in tomorrow’s world?
We spoke to Katharina Ehrhart from the Financial Services Skills Commission, and Heather Thomson from The Data Lab – two organisations committed to investigating future skills.
Here is a roundup of some of the most important skill sets expected to dominate recruitment decisions in the future.
When it comes to the finance sector, creativity doesn’t typically come top of the skill set list. However, according to Katharina, the future of finance will prioritise strong creative thinking skills more than ever. As technology becomes increasingly advanced, human-specific skills such as creativity are set to jump in value.
“Behavioural skills are really important; they give us what machines can’t deliver. We’ve identified skills like creativity, which drives innovation - the ability to bring new things into existence,” explains Katharina.
Heather adds, “The thinking is that technical skills are something that can often be developed on the job; behavioural or creative skills can be a lot more difficult to teach someone.”
2. Data Science
Data is already a rapidly growing sector of the finance industry, and the importance of data science expertise is predicted to grow exponentially.
“I’d argue data science skills are not just going to be vital in the future, they’re vital now,” says Heather. “Data is at the heart of everything; at the heart of every business. It has the ability to transform the way a business operates.”
“The data skills landscape can be complicated to navigate; there are lots of different roles and skill sets involved. At the beginning of the process, data manipulation is key. Typically raw data is not going to be in a state where it can just be picked up and dropped into a machine learning algorithm; it needs to be organised, cleaned and transformed. Data engineers do this, and it can be the most time consuming and significant part of the project. If you put rubbish in, you get rubbish out.”
3. Data Visualisation
The perfect follow-on to creativity, data visualisation skills are to do with analysing data sets and rearranging them into coherent stories, so their meaning can be communicated and understood to others. This is already a vital skill in the financial services industry, but it is expected to grow in importance. Data visualisation is a skill that bridges the gap between analytical thinking and creative thinking.
“The data skills landscape can be really complicated to navigate; there are lots of different roles and skill sets involved,” says Heather. “As a data scientist or machine learning engineer, you’re getting the technical data out - but you need to be able to present that in a boardroom, or turn it into something meaningful for the business; something that can offer valuable insight.”
At this stage, this remains a human skillset.
Coaching is also flagged as a key skill employers will look for in the financial world of tomorrow. Coaching, or the ability to mentor, train, or teach others, is a vital human-centred skill that requires a mastery of the subject, alongside strong soft skills.
This combination of content-led and emotion-led proficiency will be sought out, as it provides another example where machines fall short. Furthermore, recruitment is an expensive process, and according to Katharina, internal training can prove far more efficient.
“Coaching is a way of developing people’s skills. Our research shows us that reskilling can deliver enormous cost benefits to the business; they can save up to £49,000 per reskilled individual versus recruiting someone externally,” says Katharina.
5. Software Development
When it comes to the future of the financial services industry, software development is arguably the skill of tomorrow that is also vital today. From big disruptor banks offering an entirely digital service, to the increase in security software required to protect the finance sector, software development is set to play a continued and ongoing role in recruitment decisions going forward.
“We’ve identified future skills on the basis of data from our members, and some technical skills are fairly expected,” says Katharina. “Software development is a big one.”
“Technical skills are also increasingly important, as well as the more behavioural skills we’ve spoken about,” adds Heather.
“But, at the moment, I struggle to see a world where we would be ‘replaced by robots’. I think there’s always going to be a human element. But who knows! Can we really predict the future?”