Our goals as workers have changed over the centuries as technology has evolved and us with it. First, people wanted to be “Renaissance men,” able to adapt to any skill set they needed. Then, we became “specialists,” answering all the questions people had about our assigned craft. And in the 21st century, as artificial intelligence floods the market and robotics become more sophisticated, people are entering the next phase of our workplace identity. Now, we are “hybrids.”
Or perhaps some of us are; not everyone has adapted to the landscape. But according to a report from analytics software company Burning Glass Technologies, we should be. Otherwise, we’ll lose out on major job opportunities and our roles in the workforce may become obsolete.
Whereas 42% of all jobs can be automated, according to the report, “hybrid work can only be done by people.” While that may be an exaggeration (12% of highly hybrid jobs can still be automated), it appears that these roles are expanding and may be the new wave of opportunity in an automated society.
So what does it take to be considered a “hybrid” worker?
Well, you have to be able to go digital. “We are all being ‘augmented’ by machines, so your ability to learn new systems, configure and customize these tools, and code them, if necessarily (sic), is critical,” writes Josh Bersin, president of Bersin & Associates, in the report’s forward.
You also need to be fluent in data, analytics, business, and management. And you have to think creatively.
So really, being a “hybrid” worker means being able to use both sides of your brain — both creative and analytical. Robots can’t do that, but if we work hard, we can. And this news comes at just the right time: Demand for such workers is growing. Burning Glass found in 2018 that one in eight job postings in its database was “highly hybridized.”
“This trend has the potential to exacerbate a divide in the workforce, with some workers gaining ground in the future economy, and others — those who fail to keep up with changing skill requirements — at risk of being left behind,” the report finds.
“But,” it counters, “as jobs get reshaped by new skills and new technologies, there are also clear opportunities: For employers to upskill existing workers and develop more effective talent pipelines; for workers to make themselves more competitive by acquiring new skills ahead of the market; and for education institutions to deliver learning to the broader community of workers who will increasingly need to acquire new skills.”
Some of the jobs that have high or very high hybridity: Bioinformaticians, financial quantitative analysts, data scientists, cybersecurity analysts and health information managers.
In a world where work is changing, it’s good to have a pulse on the kinds of careers that are here to stay. And now we know — we have to focus on how to combine analytics and creative thinking if we want to beat out the machines.