The North East economy has proven its resilience many times in history and our work force has had to adapt and re-skill more than once in recent times
Those challenges are likely to be faced again, with the latest Deloitte Power Up report highlighting that workers in the North East have the greatest probability of seeing their roles replaced by further automation (39%).
The Deloitte Power Up reports are a series of insight reports that explore the critical challenges facing the UK’s government and businesses, and this latest edition is focused on the changing nature of jobs and employment in the UK.
Findings include that employment within 44% of occupations in the UK is declining, and, while more than three million jobs have been added to the UK economy in the past 16 years, employment is falling in 160 occupations, while it is increasing in 206.
"Occupations where employment is increasing are typically those in which softer, transferable skills are more prominent, such as active listening, complex problem-solving and the ability to exercise judgement. "Stephen Hall, Deloitte Newcastle
Occupations where employment is increasing are typically those in which softer, transferable skills are more prominent, such as active listening, complex problem-solving and the ability to exercise judgement. These have seen a net increase of 1.9m jobs between 2001 and 2016. Occupations typically requiring a lower level of such skills have seen a net decrease of 530,000 jobs.
These transferable skills’ can be grouped into three categories:
Communication ability to listen, respond and express ideas effectively in different contexts, influencing others
Strategic ability to exercise judgement, leadership and creativity to decide the way forward in complex environments
Analytical ability to acquire new knowledge, process information and draw accurate conclusions
What this demonstrates is that we are seeing a major shift in the UK workforce. Businesses are facing pressure to invest in technology and revise their operating models, with occupations characterised by manual, clerical, administrative and repetitive tasks being disrupted.
However, our analysis offers a different scenario to the doom and gloom of technology-fuelled mass unemployment. We know that the types of job we do and the way we work will change; but our latest research shows that as these transferable skills are more highly valued in growth occupations, opportunities will exist for workers to transition between industries and occupations.
In addition, while London and the South East have benefitted disproportionately from job growth and workers in those regions have higher average salaries, there are only marginal regional differences in the proficiency of the core transferable skills. This offers reason to be optimistic about improving regional equality for the North East.
An end to the concept of a single career
As a result businesses and workers in the North East will need to be more flexible when considering candidates and job opportunities respectively, while policymakers should focus more on developing skills rather than knowledge through education and training.
The length of time for which knowledge remains relevant is declining rapidly and the concept of a single career with a fixed knowledge-base will become less common. Workers will no longer be able to rely on predefined career paths.
For the benefits of transferable skills to be realised, employers will also need to change their approach to recruitment. Traditional recruitment processes, particularly for experienced workers, tend to focus on academic achievement and sector expertise, and could overlook individuals who might be wellsuited for the role but who have built up their skills in a different context.
Similarly, employees don’t always realise how valuable and relevant their skills are for other jobs, allowing them to reinvent themselves. As disruption gathers pace, workers will need to draw on their transferable skills, and plan for multiple careers.
Employers need to create pathways for workers to transition between industries and roles. It will also offer an opportunity to widen the pool of talent available to businesses.