Job market is more than AI skills: LinkedIn exec

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In the era of AI, upskilling is no longer an option, but a necessity. Based on research by LinkedIn, skills for jobs have changed by 38% globally since 2016. In the Asia-Pacific region, the figures are more or less the same — 40% in Singapore, 37% in Australia, and 36% in India.

With the steady rise of generative AI, this evolution is expected to accelerate, increasing the change in job skill requirements worldwide to at least 68% by 2030. However, alongside AI proficiency, employers and business leaders are also considering other critical factors when hiring or promoting a talent.

Hari Srinivasan, LinkedIn’s VP of Product, sat down with Frontier Enterprise to discuss the issue, including how enterprises can remain competitive amid the rapid AI-enabled business transformation.

AI skills are nice to have, but…

AI has no doubt touched every industry imaginable, with use cases ranging from chatbots to image generation. Familiarity with the technology is definitely a plus in the current enterprise climate, Srinivasan noted, but workers must also develop soft skills to stand out from the crowd.

“Our data found that tech professionals who have developed one or more soft skills — in addition to hard skills — get promoted over 13% faster than employees who have only hard skills. Soft skills, notably communication, are increasingly recognised for their importance, with 94% of learning and development professionals in APAC acknowledging their growing significance,” the LinkedIn executive said.

In a significant shift from prior years, communication skills have now emerged as the most sought-after attribute by employers across several APAC nations — including Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and Singapore.

“Additionally, other essential soft skills such as ‘analytical thinking’ and ‘leadership’ consistently rank within the top five across all examined markets. Hiring managers in APAC view problem-solving abilities (35%), communication skills (27%), and critical thinking (25%) as crucial soft skills,” Srinivasan continued.

AI readiness

On the technological front, LinkedIn has rolled out hundreds of generative AI courses, in collaboration with Microsoft, to introduce what is said to be the world’s first professional certificate on generative AI.

“When it comes to the specific skills people want to build, our top AI courses vary: People are learning more general skills like the basics of generative AI to more technical skills like UX for AI and GPT-4 foundations,” Srinivasan shared.

Hari Srinivasan, Vice President of Product, LinkedIn. Image courtesy of LinkedIn.

This hunger for learning, according to the executive, also presents a huge opportunity for talent leaders. However, only 43% of HR professionals in APAC are currently prioritising individual upskilling through online training and development programs. A closer look shows more optimistic figures in Indonesia (57%) and India (53%).

“With AI being a broad based technology that will impact every role, it’s imperative for companies to make sure everyone in the organisation prioritises learning new skills. This means building both AI expertise and essential soft skills across the organisation, as well as implementing career development and learning programs to help your people develop the skills they need,” he said.

Moreover, establishing a culture of learning also improves employee retention. Amid 90% of APAC organisations expressing concerns about retention, learning emerged as a primary solution to solve the talent crunch, Srinivasan observed.

Globally, 90% of C-suite executives said they will either increase or maintain their investments in employee learning and development.

New perspectives

Looking ahead, LinkedIn envisions AI as the next technology platform, similar in impact to electricity, the computer, and the internet before it. In response, the company actively promotes the development of AI expertise among its employees through LinkedIn Learning courses and by encouraging experimentation with tools like Microsoft CoPilot.

In the tech sector, LinkedIn expects that by 2030, AI will augment 6% of jobs globally, disrupt 65%, and leave 29% unaffected.

“LinkedIn customises its AI and generative AI tools to cater to different market demands by tailoring their functionalities to specific user needs and objectives. For recruiters and hirers, LinkedIn enhances the hiring experience with generative AI to help hirers find quality candidates faster. For learners, LinkedIn offers a personalised learning experience through its AI-driven learning coach,” Srinivasan said.

He also highlighted that marketers can use Accelerate, a new automated B2B marketing campaign creation tool that utilises AI. Srinivasan claims that “in as little as five minutes,” the feature will recommend a complete campaign strategy and automatic optimisations, which marketers can adjust prior to launching their campaigns. Similarly, sales professionals can benefit from features in Sales Navigator, such as Account IQ. This tool facilitates the account research process by aggregating key information from various sources, providing sellers with a concise summary to aid in their efforts.

Beyond 2030, the LinkedIn executive predicts that certain skills will retain their value more than ever. Communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking are set to remain invaluable human qualities in the dynamic business landscape, Srinivasan concluded.