Over the last few months, we’ve all had to make changes to our daily routines. The pandemic has impacted our lives in ways many of us could never have imagined. As well as the tragic loss of life, livelihoods have been lost and whole industries have been devastated. Yet people are resilient and resourceful, meaning we’ve seen new ways of working and new skills developed.
It’s these new skills that could be incredibly useful in the future. We are seeing a developing trend of what is known as ‘hybrid jobs’, and the pandemic could well have accelerated the need for those with hybrid skills. We explore these terms in more detail and look at how you can develop your abilities to future-proof your career.
What are hybrid jobs?
Let’s start off with some definitions and explanations. The term ‘hybrid’ is a fairly common word these days. We use it in economics, electronics, transportation, science and other industries. Essentially, it means that something is a mixture of separate things. For example, a hybrid car uses multiple power sources such as electric power and internal combustion.
When it comes to hybrid jobs, the trend was first identified back in 2015 by Burning Glass Technologies. The analytics software company focuses its attention primarily on the labour market. In a report for the General Assembly (the training company, not the UN branch), they noticed that more and more jobs were combining skill sets that never used to fall under the same role.
The research paper explores how new technologies have helped change the landscape of certain jobs. They use the fields of programming and data analysis as examples. Previously, professionals in these roles required a fair amount of technical expertise and training. However, developments in technology and new tools mean that a range of business and marketing roles can now perform some of these functions.
Two examples they outline in their original paper are Ruby on Rails, a web development tool, and Google Analytics, a web analytics program. Both of these software suits make previously specialised tasks far more accessible to other professionals.
The research carried out by Burning Glass Technologies is comprehensive. They have a database spanning more than 1 billion current and historical job postings. According to their figures, ‘one in eight job postings is now highly hybridized.’
What’s more, it appears that this trend is speeding up. They estimate that these hybrid jobs will grow by around 21% over the next ten years.
Why are jobs changing?
So, hybrid jobs are those that combine elements and skills of other, previously separate, roles. But why are they changing?
If we look at the last ten years, you’ll be surprised how much new technology has emerged. Things like iPads, Snapchat, Instagram, 4G networks, and cryptocurrency didn’t exist ten years ago. Yet many of these are now part of our everyday lives.
The same advances have been seen in other fields too. In areas such as marketing, computer science, and data analytics, we’ve seen more automation, new technologies, and new business requirements.
What’s more, as consumer and customer behaviours change, so too must the job roles that exist to meet those demands. For example, a marketing manager would previously rely on their creative know-how and understanding of customer habits to market their product. In more recent times, they also have to use their analytical skills to analyse and interpret the vast amounts of data we now have access to.
This trend is fairly consistent across hybrid job roles. Professions which once relied solely on hard skills (such as coding, programming, data analysis) now also need soft skills (such as creative thinking and design).
Technology is changing our lives, and the rate of progress seems to be increasing. As a result, hybrid jobs emerge, as companies react to new developments and changes in behaviours. And it’s not just the technology driving this change, but also the need for professionals to have hard and soft skills.
What challenges does this bring?
Of course, with this shift towards hybrid jobs, there are some challenges to be faced. Perhaps the biggest is that the more specialised, sophisticated, and broad the job requirements are, the harder it will be for people to get them.
Those without the necessary skills and experience may find it difficult to find entry-level jobs. Similarly, for educators, the challenge is how to prepare students that will be entering the hybrid job economy. Which skills do you prioritise? And how do you know whether these skills are future-proof?
Thankfully, the forces of change also offer potential solutions. The rise in new tech like e-learning and remote education offers opportunities for people to continue learning. As job skills and requirements change, it’s easier to upskill and keep up to date with the latest developments in many industries.
What’s clear is that personal development and lifelong learning are becoming more important than ever before. Those who fail to keep up with the change in skill requirements in their careers are at risk of being left behind.
What roles are changing?
As you might expect, there are certain industries and roles that are changing at a faster rate than others. As such, we’re seeing hybrid jobs spring up at a greater pace in several industries. In the Burning Glass report, they outline five key skill areas where we’re seeing the most growth:
Big data and analytics
This is a topic we’ve covered in several posts recently. On the whole, businesses are collecting more data than ever before. Big data analytics focuses on these huge data sets and, and how they can be used to inform all kinds of decisions.
Data analytics, in general, is a field that’s continued to grow over the last decade or so. We all produce data about so many aspects of our lives, and it can be harnessed in a host of different ways. As such, those working in the field now need to account for all kinds of factors aside from the data itself.
Skills such as creative thinking, risk management, and marketing are increasingly required. Similarly, knowledge of AI and machine learning are highly sought-after across many data-driven industries.
Design and development
Mobile apps are one of the factors that have really driven the rise of hybrid jobs in this sector. Ten years ago, apps were relatively new things. After all, Apple’s App Store only launched in 2008. Now, they’re a ubiquitous part of life for many of us.
For developers of all kinds, this means that design skills are increasingly important. Not only do they have to create something functional, but it also has to look good to the end-user. Whether it’s for web developers or game designers, the way we interact with our technology has changed drastically in recent years.
Sales and customer service
These two roles used to be entirely separate entities. You’d have a dedicated sales team working alongside a customer service department. Yet the rise of online shopping and constant connectivity has seen an overlap in these positions.
The idea of customer engagement has become far more relevant. Salespeople now try to build stronger relationships with customers, relying on things like social selling to reach new leads. And social media has become the new frontier of customer service, where problems are solved, and questions are answered.
Emerging digital technologies
Of course, it’s not just established jobs that are experiencing a rise in hybrid jobs. Roles related to emerging technologies also require a breadth and depth of knowledge to connect ideas and spot opportunities. It’s not enough to have just a deeply technical understanding; you also have to have the soft skills to back it up.
Fields such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are just as creative as they are technical these days. As these sectors continue to develop, so too will the need for a workforce of multi-skilled employees.
Compliance and regulation
With the rapid development of new and existing technologies, the need for new regulations becomes evident. As such, industry regulators and compliance experts will need to understand how these technologies work.
What skills do you need for hybrid jobs?
We’ve highlighted some of the areas where hybrid jobs are becoming more prevalent. But what skills are particularly in demand? In reality, it’s a range of expertise that employers are looking for. Here are some of the top ones, as outlined in research by LinkedIn:
Hard skills are those that are measurable and easily taught. Essentially, they’re the specifics needed for technical jobs. Here are some of the most in-demand for hybrid skills:
The ability to understand and write computer code has become highly sought-after. In the future, it’s going to become essential. Coding and programming will be relevant to so many jobs, now and in years to come.
Blockchain and cryptocurrency are some of the cutting edge technologies of the moment. Those with expertise in these areas will find many opportunities going forward, particularly those with the soft skills to complement them.
We’ve already mentioned data analytics. It’s evidently one of the areas that have contributed to the rise in hybrid jobs. It’s a field that’s relevant to so many other areas of business, and more job roles require an understanding of it.
Soft skills are those abilities that are slightly more intangible. They’re the traits that make you a good employee, and companies are looking more and more to hire people who have soft as well as hard skills.
The ability to successfully lead other people is a trait that’s hard to find. Hybrid jobs need individuals with strong leadership and management skills. Those who can act decisively, spot opportunities, and bring out the best in others will never struggle to find work.
Although a skill that’s difficult to pin down, those with a creative spark in addition to technical knowledge are some of the most in-demand employees in the hybrid job economy. The ability to solve problems and spot opportunities are worth their weight in gold.
No matter what kind of team you or organisation you work in, the ability to work with others will always be valuable. Collaboration skills help with building relationships, achieving targets, and fostering success within a team.
How can you future-proof your career?
So, with the move towards hybrid jobs, how can you ensure that you’ll continue to find work in the future? There are several ways that you can future-proof your career, both in the short- and long-term. Here are some of the things you should consider:
Perhaps the most essential part of keeping up in the hybrid job economy is to continue learning. No longer can you gain a qualification or develop a skill set and rest on your laurels. Lifelong education has never been more important.
Thankfully, it’s never been easier to continue your learning journey. Online and modular education can help you build hybrid skill sets. Not only can you continue developing your existing knowledge, but you can also explore other areas to augment your main skills.
Develop soft and hard skills
As part of your lifelong learning, you’ll want to focus your efforts on a range of areas. In addition to expanding your knowledge of new technologies, systems, and ways of working, you should also focus on the skills that all employers look for.
As we’ve mentioned, things like leadership, management, collaboration, communication, and creativity are needed in just about every workspace.
Build your network
As your career progresses, you’ll meet all kinds of other professionals. Some will work in your field, while others will work in new or adjacent areas. Building a network around these people is always a good idea. As well as getting insight into other areas, you’ll also have support to draw on when you’re looking to advance your career.
Try new things
No matter what field you work in, there will always be opportunities to try out something new. Whether it’s a formal secondment to another role or learning the basics from another department, this inter-professional knowledge can really help. Not only does it show your commitment to the cause, but it also gives you experience with several different jobs.
Online learning opportunities with FutureLearn
It’s evident that a key part of the world of hybrid jobs is continued learning. With FutureLearn, you have a variety of options to work on your personal and professional development.
No matter the scale or scope of your ambitions, you can find learning opportunities to meet your needs, across a diverse range of topics. This includes:
A short online course can be the ideal primer or foundation for your knowledge. If you’re looking to expand your hard or soft skills, an online course is often the ideal place to start. We even have a course on the essential skills for your career development.
These courses usually only take a few weeks to complete, with just a few hours’ of study needed each week.
For a more detailed look at a particular subject, a program might be more suited to your needs. These are collections of courses that explore a topic in greater detail. A good example is our Start Programming with Python program. It consists of three courses that teach the fundamentals of this programming language.
A popular way of upskilling is to take a microcredential. These professionally accredited credentials are developed specifically to develop skills in growing industries. At a time where flexible learning is essential, microcredentials are the perfect solution. This one on data science looks at some of the emerging technologies used in data analysis.
If you’re seeking a longer-term learning experience, then an online degree is always a good choice. For those looking to keep on top of the hybrid job economy, a degree can give you an entirely new skill set in a new field.