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The most documented theme for the talent industry in 2019 has been the ongoing shortage of niche skills, particularly in IT. However, as more and more companies adopt agile practices to seize and build on opportunities created by the increasingly disruptive business environment, it is not just IT and systems skills which will be in short supply.

As we go into 2020, demand for skills in the change management, digital marketing, training, and financial management areas are also set to be in high demand.

The roles expected to be in highest demand include the following:

Change Managers
For organisations to survive and thrive in dynamic contexts, leaders and senior executives need to be ready to engage with the full spectrum of change strategies, from incremental change to organisational transformation, as well as the development of new cultures of agility and responsiveness. As companies focus more on change management capabilities, there continues to be an increasing demand for change management practitioners.

Project Managers  
Effectively executing projects has become more complicated, and this will only continue in the future. While technical skills are essential, there are some soft skills like exceptional leadership abilities that will rank much higher as a priority to employers. Candidates with leadership skills and a solid grasp of how project management can enable business strategy will be the most sought after in this category.

HR Managers
No one understands that the competition for talent in today’s business environment is intense more than HR Managers. As businesses get more complex and are poised for continual change, the HR leader needs to have extraordinary interpersonal and communication skills as well as the ability to lead, facilitate, and drive change. With the emergence of a diverse workforce ecosystem and agile workforce practices, HR managers experienced in building strategic partnerships to access talent networks and ensure the right freelance talent are hired to complement full-time employees will be in great demand. The HR executive needs to be well-rounded with experience across most, if not all, HR functions.

Digital Marketers
According to a survey of more than 200 marketers by the Digital Marketing Institute, 73% of respondents report that they are concerned about a digital skills shortage in the industry. Digital now accounts for approximately half of overall marketing budgets and 78% of the surveyed marketers reported they plan to increase digital marketing budgets in 2020 by 38%. The channels for which marketing teams are currently experiencing the greatest skills gaps within their organisations are paid social media advertising, paid search advertising, marketplace selling (e.g. Amazon) and search engine optimisation. The areas where they anticipated the greatest challenges in 2020 will be keeping up with the pace of technological change and creating engaging digital content to contend with increasing noise from other brands. To address this skill shortage, 82% of respondents indicated that their organisation needs to invest more in staff training and development to upskill and reskill their marketing teams to remain competitive.

Program Managers
A program manager manages multiple projects, and sometimes multiple programs, while a project manager manages the teams responsible for fulfilling the project and achieving its deliverables. A program manager articulates a program’s strategy and objectives and assesses how it will impact a business. He or she must define and oversee a list of dependent projects needed to reach the program’s overall goals. Their responsibilities include enlisting teams, implementing strategies, measuring ROI, and other big-picture initiatives. As businesses implement more agile strategies, managing multiple, small multi-disciplinary teams sees Program Managers becoming an “in demand” role.

Agile Coaches
The demand for agile coaches far outstrips supply. The adoption rate for agile has been growing steadily in the past decade, and it takes years to grow good coaches.  As a result, there is little hope for the supply to catch up with demand any time soon. Good coaches need years of agile experience, not days of training, and, ideally, they should have experience in a similar context to the position being advertised. This makes this position very difficult to fill.  

Risk & Compliance Managers
A shortage of qualified candidates in the risk and compliance areas is currently resulting in big pay increases in this sector. Another factor leading to salary increases is the decision by many professionals in this sector to become consultants and contractors who will work for companies on specific compliance projects, such as preparing for a regulatory change or adapting systems. Many of the most in-demand risk professionals prefer to work ad hoc rather than be tied down to a permanent contract, as freelancing gives greater flexibility. This further reduces the pool of experienced workers and can also directly affect the pay of compliance workers by encouraging permanent staff to look in envy at what freelancers earn — and ask for a better deal themselves.

Financial Managers
As businesses are becoming more complex in terms of their finances, employers are looking for specialists who are able to forecast diverse financial scenarios and use expert decision-making skills to provide solutions which contribute to business strategy. According to specialist recruiter Robert Walters, the top three skills in demand are Analysis (38%), Business Partnering (36%) and Financial Reporting (29%). Over half of employers (53%) consider CA (chartered accountant) to be the most important qualification when sourcing candidates in the recruitment process. 50% of CFOs also look for a CA qualification in new hires, while 41% say they require a CIMA qualification.

Learning and Development (L&D) Professionals
At its core, learning and development (L&D) is about creating a culture of continuous learning and growth through programs that enable organisations to constantly evolve and develop. This culture of continual learning and up-skilling is central in today’s fast-moving business environment. At the macro level, L&D is about understanding the organisation strategy and its future capability needs in order to identify learning priorities across the organisation. On an individual level, the L&D professional’s job is to create learning environments where employees can continuously develop to be their best. An L&D specialist excels at identifying the current and future skills requirements of an organisation and creates flexible learning interventions (through digital and other means) to meet the diverse needs of the workforce. It is a fast-growing area with skilled practitioners in short supply.

Bridge the skills gap and find the talent you need:

While 2020 looks challenging for talent acquisition teams needing to fill vacancies in these fields, as we have said previously, there are several strategies available which can help get you ahead of the competition.

Firstly, rethink the workforce ecosystem 
Make an increasing use of a blended workforce where the traditional employee-employer relationships are augmented with all forms of alternative work arrangements, including freelance workers, contract workers, and gig workers. Companies which are actively engaging with this increasing pool of on-demand workers are seeing their vacancies being filled quicker than their competitors.

Secondly, connect with talent marketplaces
Choose the right partners and targeted digital platforms which give you access to talent marketplaces where active and passive candidates are already vetted. The best of these platforms not only give TAs the ability to source and engage with talent marketplaces, but can integrate with a company’s core HCM technology and vendor management system to onboard, manage and track permanent and freelance workers, leading to a more complete view of the entire workforce.

Finally, think longer-term
While 2020 is going to be challenging, in all likelihood, 2021 won’t be any easier. With digital and agile workforce transformations becoming essential to keep up with today’s fast-paced world, all sectors will need to prepare for a major shift in how work gets done. Planning for, driving change and executing work during and after these transformations will require organisations to have talent with this expertise when they need it the most.

Want to learn more about these strategies? Check out our whitepaper and "Rethink your hiring strategies to attract and retain top non-permanent talent."

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