The digital economy does not appear to be accompanied by the disregarding of “human” employment in favour of the machine, despite fears from employees. On the contrary, 93% of employers have never been as confident in the need to grow personnel or at the very least maintain it at current levels. This is, in part, due to the automation of particular tasks, revealed the third edition of the survey “digitalization & employment”, produced by ManpowerGroup.
The survey was conducted by 19,000 employers in 44 countries, including Belgium. Here 15% of employers anticipated increasing their personnel numbers owing to digitalization, whilst only 5% of them anticipated reducing them. Some 93% of Belgian employers questioned (87% globally) anticipated either maintaining or increasing their staff due to automation, a relatively stable level compared to last year (91%).
Growth in automation is, however, changing the skillset required. The pace of this change varies with the specialism. “As with last year, it is no surprise that IT job profiles proved to be the biggest winners of digitalization with a demand for expertise which is increasing at a fast pace. Around 16% of Belgian companies are intending to recruit IT specialists, threes times more than those envisaging personnel reductions in this sphere,” observed the HR company.
Equally a high growth in posts is expected to be directly linked with company customer base (a net balance up by 8%). Thus 1 Belgian company surveyed out of 10 anticipated job creation to improve customer experience.
The manufacturing industry is also anticipating changes. Some 9% of employers spoke of employing more employees on a short-term basis. At the same time 6% are anticipating a reduction in their payroll costs.
That having been said, administrative roles are losing ground (a net reduction of 15%): nearly 1 Belgian employer in 5 anticipates job losses in this sphere, during the next two years. Automation may continue to cause job losses in accounts and finance positions (a net reduction of 11%), whilst employment in HR is likely to remain stable (indicating a net balance of 0%).
“Constantly asking ourselves whether robots will take our jobs moves us further from the nub of the discussion,” considered Philippe Lacroix, Director of ManpowerGroup BeLux, cited in a communiqué. The main issue appears to be more focused upon increasing employee skills so as to prepare them for roles that are both emerging and complementary to those which will be done by machines.