A Blog by Jonathan Low

 

Jan 25, 2019

The Hybrid Skills Tomorrow's Analytical Jobs Will Require

The crucial skill that distinguishes those data analysts who add value is their ability to provide context, interpretation and meaning so that those using the information provided are able to optimize its impact more quickly and strategically than their competitors.


Lauren Weber reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Many of the good jobs of the future will require being good at using both sides of the brain. Jobs that tap both technical and creative thinking include mobile-app developers and bioinformaticians, and represent some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying occupations. Employers want workers with experience in capabilities as big-data gathering and analytics. Such roles require familiarity with advanced computer programs but also creative minds to make use of the data.
Left brain, meet right brain. Go forth and prosper.
That could be the new formula for a successful career.
Here’s why. The human brain, that extraordinary computer, is divided into two hemispheres, each responsible for different skill sets. The left brain is popularly associated with logic and analytic thought; the right, with intuition and creativity.
But many of the good jobs of the future, according to some employment experts, will require being good at using both sides of the brain.
To some extent, that future is already here. Jobs that tap both technical and creative thinking include mobile-app developers and bioinformaticians, and represent some of the fastest-growing and highest-paying occupations, according to a new report from Burning Glass Technologies, a labor-market analytics firm in Boston.
The company analyzed millions of job postings to better understand the skills employers are seeking. What they discovered was that many employers want workers with experience in such new capabilities as big-data gathering and analytics, or design using digital technology. Such roles often require not only familiarity with advanced computer programs but also creative minds to make use of all the data.
Burning Glass came up with the term “hybrid jobs” to describe these kinds of positions, which require skills not normally found together. For example, these hybrid jobs might require people with skills in data science and advertising, or engineering and sales. “The jobs of the future don’t involve just one skill,” says Matt Sigelman, chief executive of Burning Glass. “There’s a breadth of skills that will be needed.”
In its report, Burning Glass also differentiated between jobs that require lower and higher levels of hybridization, based mainly on the number of different skills required outside of a role’s traditional requirements and how specialized or sophisticated those skills are.
While Burning Glass forecasts overall job growth of about 10% between 2018 and 2028, the firm expects jobs that are the most hybridized to grow by 21%.
What’s more, hybrid jobs pay more than positions that call for a traditional constellation of skills. For example, a typical marketing manager earns $71,000, according to the Burning Glass report. But a marketing manager with fluency in SQL, a database program, earns a 41% premium over that, with an average annual salary of $100,000. A customer-service manager who knows customer-relationship-management software can bump up his or her earnings by 22%, to $60,000 from $49,000.
In many cases, the premium comes to those in right-brain jobs that develop technical skills to supplement creative or social skills.

Hybrid Jobs Are Human Jobs

Jobs that combine once-unrelated skills, such as engineering and sales, are at low risk of being automated, according to a labor-market analysis.

Hybridization
Sample jobs
Automation likelihood
Very high
Data engineer, IT auditor
12%
Health information manager, cybersecurity analyst
High
26%
General auditor, medical biller
Moderate
42%
Low
48%
Machine operator, truck driver, psychiatrist
Sample jobs
Hybridization
Automation likelihood
Very high
Data engineer, IT auditor
12%
Health information manager,
cybersecurity analyst
High
26%
General auditor, medical biller
Moderate
42%
Machine operator, truck driver,
psychiatrist
Low
48%
Sample jobs
Hybridization
Automation likelihood
Very high
Data engineer, IT auditor
12%
Health information manager,
cybersecurity analyst
High
26%
Moderate
General auditor, medical biller
42%
Machine operator, truck driver,
psychiatrist
Low
48%
Automation
likelihood
Sample jobs
Hybridization
Data engineer, IT auditor
Very high
12%
Health
information manager, cybersecurity
analyst
26%
High
General
auditor,
medical biller
Moderate
42%
Machine operator, truck driver,
psychiatrist
48%
Low
Though Elen Gales studied economics in college, she mostly worked as a video editor and photographer in San Francisco after moving to the U.S. from Asia in 2007, using software programs like Adobe’s Photoshop and Premiere. As she saw the growing influence of social media, she decided to learn about digital marketing, first with a part-time course through General Assembly, a technology training and job-networking company, and later in a full-time boot camp called Tradecraft.
In marketing, says Ms. Gales, “you have to think as a customer in a qualitative way and then apply the quantitative part by looking at data and finding patterns.” In her classes, she learned SQL as well as social-media and advertising platforms such as Hootsuite, Buffer and Google Analytics. Today, Ms. Gales, age 41, owns her own marketing and creative agency. A few years ago, her hourly rate was around $30, she says. Now she earns $75 to $125 an hour.
For those who start out on the technical side of the labor market, the payoff for adding social or creative skills can also be large. An engineer who sharpens her sales skills and becomes a consulting engineer for a software company, working closely with business clients, can more than double her earnings from a $180,000 salary to a commission-heavy haul of $400,000 or more, says Tim Lockwood, who recruits software engineers for New York City companies through talent agency Grow Recruiting.
The other side of this equation: People who fail to update their skills will qualify for fewer jobs. In 2013, Burning Glass found, one in 20 ads for design, media and writing jobs requested analysis skills. In 2018, one in 13 postings did. In 2013, one in 500 ads for marketing and public-relations pros asked for data-visualization skills. By 2018, the ratio had increased to one in 59.
People in hybrid jobs are also less likely to become professionally obsolete. Highly hybridized jobs have only 12% risk of being automated, compared with a 42% risk for jobs overall, says Burning Glass.
“What this is really about is redefining the basket of what’s foundational in education,” says Mr. Sigelman, the Burning Glass CEO.
While the competencies required for hybrid jobs aren’t necessarily new, Mr. Sigelman says, what is new is the marriage of skill sets that previously weren’t learned in tandem. Universities in many cases are already teaching all the necessary skills, but at the moment most students are trained “in pretty vertical ways,” he says, meaning people learn one discipline as though it exists separately from other disciplines. Educational institutions must “think outside of existing program boundaries,” the Burning Glass report says.
One note of concern, Mr. Sigelman adds: Hybrid jobs are typically not entry-level roles, so they are available mainly to workers who have some years of experience and, crucially, additional training beyond college or an associate degree. That means workers, employers and educational institutions will have to figure out how to more systematically prepare individuals for these roles.
“Lifelong learning is essential,” says the report. “Since these roles are hard to fill and often are only a few skills away from traditional roles, businesses may find greater efficiency in training up existing workers than in trying to hire afresh.”

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