Digital technology is shaping almost every aspect of modern life and it’s already changed the way we work beyond recognition.

Cloud computing, AI and machine learning are rapidly becoming the architecture on which business is built and operates. Organizations are accelerating digital transformation and application modernization in order to take advantage of the opportunities new technology brings. But how can they shape their workforces to ensure they thrive now and in the future?

For Alisia Genzler, Group President and Chief Client Officer of Randstad Technologies, the solution lies in a long-term commitment to building skills. “As new technologies are introduced and digital transformation accelerates, a skills gap is created within companies. This gap should be a focus for leadership teams who can either hire in anticipation or fill new roles as they emerge. Organizations must ensure that they don’t fail to recognize an emerging skills gap, or worse, ignore it.”

how digital is shaping recruitment trends

As new digital roles emerge, the need for some of the more traditional roles is declining. This shift is reshaping team structures, organizational staffing needs and the recruitment practices required to build an effective workforce.

Digital jobs now account for one in 10 of all job vacancies advertised online — up by nearly a quarter in the past four years. Recruiting talent and reskilling current employees for these jobs requires a new approach from hiring managers and HR professionals, as our in-depth research illustrates.

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Data insights on Building a Workforce for a Digital Future — a U.S. View

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New Insights on Digital Skill Demands Using Big Data analyzes 417 million online job postings over 10 years in 10 countries.

The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and supported by Randstad, focuses on four broad sets of digital occupations organized into the following groups:

  • Computer and data analysts and administrators.
  • Software developers, programmers and engineers.
  • Information and communications technology (ICT) technicians and data-entry clerks.
  • IT and HR managers and marketing specialists.

Using AI and machine learning technology to assess job postings, the report identifies the digital jobs and skills most in demand, as well as key areas where reskilling will be required.

Research on this scale produces a great depth of new knowledge and insights, so what can U.S. employers learn from the data?

the new digital workplace

One key takeaway is the speed of digital technology adoption. It is driving the growth in jobs defined or influenced by those new digital systems.

“Digital transformation is moving at a rapid pace,” says Terry O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Randstad Technologies. “Digital technologies are not an adjunct to the way we work — they are embedded in how we work, changing what we are able to do, as well as how we do it.”

The report highlights the ubiquity of digital technology. No longer confined to IT and technical departments, it is reaching into every part of a business: from raw materials management to inventory control, to last-mile delivery.

Jobs are changing, too, with many roles not traditionally thought of as digital now having digital elements. Warehouse assistants are frequently undertaking tasks scheduled by algorithms, working alongside robots that carry out much of the physical work.

That’s just one example of the growth in digital roles. The table below shows a breakdown of the digital occupations advertised in the U.S. by group, by percentage.

  • Software developers, programmers and engineers — 56%
  • Computer and data analysts/administrators — 23%
  • IT technicians and data-entry clerks — 12%
  • IT and HR managers/marketing specialists — 9%

Note: The shares are calculated as the average share over 2012-18 

*OECD calculations based on Emsi Burning Glass data 

As the figures highlight, software developers, programmers and engineers have seen some of the most notable growth rates among all digital occupations. Computer and data analysts/administrators account for a fifth of the digital occupations analyzed.

As the threat of cybercrime grows, companies are investing heavily in cybersecurity and IT risk management, which is driving greater demand for roles in these areas.

matching human skills with digital intelligence

One of the great challenges we face in building the workforce of the future will be equipping employees with the required digital and cognitive skills for interacting with technology.

There is no doubt that AI, automation and other digital technologies will replace some human roles in specific cognitive tasks — but their success will be dictated by the way humans interact with it. Businesses must ensure employees can adapt to the changes intelligent technology will bring. This will require processes that enable employees to continuously learn new digital skills.

The OECD and Randstad report has identified five key skills sought after across the job market, as organizations move to ensure they are equipped for the digital future.

1. advanced data analytics

Data analytics skills have experienced the biggest spike in demand. In the U.S., growth in demand is 15 times greater than for the average skill.

2. programming skills

Programming skills are diffusing at a particularly rapid rate in the UK and U.S. labor markets. The growth seen over the past decade is expected to accelerate as such skills are fundamental to a variety of jobs.

3. automation and IoT

The digital revolution has accelerated the progression of automation and IoT technologies and their use in the workplace. Automated hotel check-in, for example, is freeing up staff from reception desks to help guests in other ways.

4. cybersecurity

The rapid growth in demand for cybersecurity workers is expected to continue and commentators expect bottlenecks in the job market as a result of skills shortages.

5. business sales and data skills

Much of the demand in this area is being driven by social media management skills, which are highly sought after in the U.S. — almost 14 times more diffused than the average skill. Accounting and finance software skills are also high up the list.


Many of the skills required for the digital jobs of the future are already represented in the workplace. A key driver of success will be the ability to identify these crossovers and reskill people for the new parts of the job ushered in by technology.

Companies must be equipped to support workers as they move into new roles — setting clear goals and establishing clearly defined pathways for transition. The careers of the future will be defined by the life-long adoption of new skills that enable employees to work successfully alongside increasingly intelligent technology.