TalentConnect 2018

  • Three most sought-after jobs Asean are in AI, Data Science and as Stack Developers
  • Soft skills are a much-needed commodity in today’s business environment


LinkedIn VP of Talent and Learning Solutions for Asia Pacific Feon Ang (left) with The CADS founder and CEO Sharala Axryd

TALENTCONNECT, hosted by LinkedIn for the past 10 years, is a gathering of talent heads from all over the world. Every year, these talented chief people officers congregate to network and to discover what is trending in the world of human capital. Every year there will always be a new discovery to be made; either skills which will be in demand in the future or ways to strategically invest in talent. I was fortunate enough to attend it last Oct as I nominated by LinkedIn out of a very select few clients in Southeast Asia.

Running from 9th-11th October 2018 at Anaheim, California, Jeff Weiner, chief executive officer of LinkedIn talked about LinkedIn’s journey, its culture and all the new products they have in line for future demand. Through the data gathered by LinkedIn, they have managed to have insights into what the three most sought-after jobs are in ASEAN – jobs in the Artificial Intelligence sector, Data Science and as Stack Developers.

What keeps employers awake?

When planning for the future of their organisations, employers will always think of ways in which they can keep abreast with the developments happening all around them. The needs and the role of their organisation and how everything fits with what they have in mind.

There are several things that are on an employer’s mind when they focus on the future. They question ways they can access the skills they need from within their business, how to acquire these skills and how they can build these essential skills with the talent they already have.

This is considered an important part of development and growth of an organisation, because aside from having the skills required, the organisation also requires the people to utilise these skills. Thus, this is where companies such as The Center of Applied Data Science (CADS) become part of an organisation’s growth.

As a pioneer and a centre of excellence for data science in Malaysia and around the Asean region, CADS has the ability to train and educate a company’s existing or newly recruited talent into individuals who can contribute soundly towards the company’s future.

Every company a tech company

Moving forward, especially with the economy going the way it is, every company will become a data driven organisation regardless of the business they are in. This begs the question of what does this mean to a business? For many organisations, they will start to ponder how they can manage this change, while they carry on doing business as usual. They will also start to think about where they can go to seek assistance, in order for them to embrace the change.

For this part of the world, change is upon them and it has become a huge necessity to develop, due to the traditional business module used and the cheap labour force. If this is carried out according to plan, between 400 million to 800 million jobs will be displaced by year 2030.

As frightening as this may sound, what is exciting is the opportunity it creates. When steam engines came to this world, horse carriages and rides were devastated by the potential job losses that this technology would bring. However, as history has proven, the industrial revolution, has since then, created way more jobs than ever.

Thus, it is only natural to assume that the fourth industrial evolution will impact the manufacturing sector, but the truth is, the effect will spill-over into multiple sectors such as the education sector and the government via investments, policy making and governance.

Its biggest impact, however, will be in the private sector, as each organisation will be pushed towards evolving, whether they like it or not.

This will be the time for the tech employee to show their employers what they can do and what their contribution means for the company as a whole.

While a tech employee usually is banished to the backroom since no one really understands what his role is, the data science evolution will showcase not only what they can do, but how valuable their knowledge and contribution is to the entire organisation.

Further to this, organisations will have to rethink their hiring policies and strategies. Employers will now adjust their requirements in accordance with what they are planning for the future.

Unlike before, where employers only hire when they need to, with the existence of data, they will be able to prepare for their talent needs in the future.

Once the companies have embraced change, this will then affect changes in the education system. Companies of the future as well as some companies who have already started the ball rolling, will begin to look for talent with non-traditional backgrounds to fit their newly-charted road map.

However, it is interesting to note that the number one skill most sought-after in the US is not software engineering. It is soft skills that employers look for the most, with software engineering falling to second place.

Soft skills, such as oral communication, time management, leadership qualities and writing skills, are a much-needed commodity in today’s business environment.

Nevertheless, all this transformation is not possible without participation from the government. Change must come from the top down if it is to make an impact, and only the government can change age-old ways through implementing digital, AI and cloud strategies.

This then becomes the main obstacle as implementation is difficult and the presence of a high-level blue print alone will not evoke actionable insights.

It is important for governments to understand the inside role that they need to play, in cyber-security for instance, particularly with AI technology on the rise.

Governments must have a clear plan on when and how to obtain the skills needed for a mammoth change such as this. A secure and well-thought out plan will instigate the country to be more innovative and attract investors. It is a simple equation as investors will follow where great and relevant talents exist. High skilled talents attract high technology companies and that produces a high-income nation.

Change is in the air

Companies with traditional ways of doing business have to change the way they collect intelligence. Thus, it is believed that the only way they can win or stay relevant is to implement this single most IMPORTANT strategy, which is, TALENT STRATEGY.

In the past, just like the horse carriages, the way we would conduct or build businesses would be different from the time of the steam engine.

We had to stop breeding horses for work and change to breeding for sport and leisure. We had to build structures that would help produce parts for steam engines and just like that, we had industrialisation.

Therefore, in this day and age, the analogy is the same; we have to evolve the way we do things now and move into the fourth industrial evolution. It is when organisations have the right talent in place, that they be able to figure out what type of infrastructure is needed. Only with talent will organisations be able to have the kind of insights needed for billion-dollar investments.

Major decisions such as this cannot be confined to a small group of people. A technologically advanced company needs the right kind of talent and every single individual in the company must evolve and become a technologically savvy person in order to continue to be of value to the organisation as a whole.

The role of TalentConnect

This year, the speakers of TalentConnect will be addressing the four sections a company can work on to improve its business. These areas are Talent Intelligence, Future of Work, Talent Development and Community Building.

Talent intelligence

In order to be part of this technological evolution, Human Capital in each company has to be the core of every business and not be deemed an after-thought. Workforce analytics need to be implemented no matter how small the company may be.

It is important to know the kind of skills an organisation has within the company, how to leverage on this and then pay close attention to the skills gap needed for the business.

Without this, the company is only grappling in the darkness and hoping to stay profitable for as long as they can. Companies will also be hard pressed to keep up with the change in technology if they do not have the right talent with the right skill set, creating a sort of revenue leakage without even realising it.

Future of work

Almost everyone knows what it means when the future of the workforce is mentioned. The evolution from AI to Development & Innovation is what the future workforce needs, and organisations must be ahead of the changing trends.

Being illiterate in the world today does not mean that a person does not have an education, it is more about an individual’s inability to learn, re-learn and upgrade their skills.

Every individual needs to stay relevant and upgrade their skills to the ‘steam engine’ level because the breeding of horses will now just be a sport and a hobby.

Organisations will fall behind if they do not channel their recruitment towards talents who are able to learn and adapt to constant changes.

They need to gear their workforce towards adaptability, innovation and forward-thinking to keep ahead of the pack.

Talent development

Towards improving the skills of their workforce, many companies have started implementing e-learning as a strategy to get everyone on board. As mentioned, the question is how to validate these skills; employers would want to know whether they can do the job.

Therefore, it is very important that Human Capital plays a role in building a skills road map to monitor and evaluate the development of the current workforce consistently.

Without this, organisations may find themselves lacking in know-how and will need to light a fire under their employees to get them moving.

Talent development is something that must be cultivated from the beginning, and each employee must be made to understand that it is a requirement if they want to be part of the team.

It would be beneficial for employees to come into the company knowing what is expected of them and therefore, be able to meet the expectations of employers and industry.

Community building

One of the salient points in this evolution is that an organisation cannot evoke this type of change on their own. Working in a closed environment or running a business without a supporting community will not bode well at this point in time.

Although, most business-savvy people will agree it would be more natural for a tech company to work on its own, the support of a community is vital especially when an organisation is learning new skills and working in a new environment.

The eco-system will help the organisation move forward as it will create a space where young talents can inspire each other to stay relevant, as well as to learn from each other on how to go about things.

It is now imperative for those in the industry to work together to address the talent shortage and not fight or poach from each other. In the end, this does not help anyone. If there is an abundance of fruits everywhere, it can help feed everyone. No one starves.

Sitting in the plane, thinking and writing this piece has provided so much insight on how the world is evolving.

Asean is about one to two years behind these changes. But you know the precautions of waiting are going to be more painful than in the West. The good news is that we know what is coming. It is definitely time to hang up the horse reins.

Sharala Axryd is the founder and CEO of The Center of Applied Data Science (CADS).


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