The pandemic has brought drastic changes to the marketplace for human resources (HR) professionals in ways that were unimaginable a few years ago. In this blog, I want to share with you three trends that will change the landscape of HR jobs within the next five years.

Job Reduction

According to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs 2020 report, 43% of large companies surveyed, based on a sample of 291 executives managing 7.7 million employees worldwide, said that they would reduce their workforce due to technology integrated into the workplace, such as machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Gone are the days when you would have to call HR to know how many vacation days you have left in your account. In fact, one of the jobs that will be displaced within the next five years is payroll and time-keeping clerks. In addition, a Glassdoor survey showed accounts payable specialists and HR specialists were among the top 20 jobs that would be displaced in 2021.

Jobs of tomorrow

Although large companies such as Amazon have invested in the automation of job tasks for several years and have allocated $750 million in upskilling their employees, the pandemic has accelerated this technology adoption at Amazon, as well in other big businesses. The shift from using humans to process paperwork to using machines through AI could displace 85 million jobs worldwide by 2025. Does that mean the job of an HR manager or director or business partner will be rendered obsolete by AI post COVID-19? Given the unprecedented nature of the global pandemic coupled with the rise in social unrest, will AI be able to replace HR managers when managing disruption caused by the changing workplace? My answer is a resounding No, because the job of HR managers and business partners requires more than “routinized tasks” that can be programmed into an algorithm. I think that the job of HR managers, directors, and business partners will be growing in demand post pandemic, because those jobs require an aptitude for working with people from different backgrounds whose critical thinking and problem-solving skills cannot be replaced by robotic technology.

In addition, future jobs in HR will require an analytical mindset to interpret and understand AI/ML data for HR planning and forecasting. Indeed, the above skills are captured by both the HRCS and SHRM’s HR competencies models covered in the Human Resources Certification Prep Course offered by Towson University Continuing and Professional Studies, which I teach. Specifically, three core competencies within the HRCS model that HR professionals must possess include being a strategic positioner, credible activist, and paradox navigator—all of which require strategic decision-making, relationship building, and problem solving skills required by future HR jobs. Likewise, the SHRM competency model includes nine competencies that HR professionals must possess such as critical evaluation, business acumen, relationship management, leadership and navigation, to name a few.

Skills of tomorrow

As we face more uncertainty in the next few years, I think the most important skill for tomorrow’s workforce is adaptability. For example, we need to get used to the fact that teleworking is here to stay post pandemic, evidenced by 84% of surveyed employers by the World Economic Forum planning to digitize their working processes including making working from home or remote work permanent after the pandemic. In addition, to maintain one’s comparative advantage, reasoning, ethical decision-making, communicating, and interacting skills are important for HR professionals and job seekers alike.

How you should prepare for the future

Considering the above three trends, what should we do to prepare ourselves for the future of HR? In this blog post, I am offering the following recommendations:

  1. Consider taking a self-paced course to retool your skill set. The Human Resources Certification Prep Course offered by Towson University Continuing and Professional Studies can be taken as a self-paced course or an instructor-led course. In addition, the course provides learners with an opportunity to learn new skills required for future jobs in HR, as I mentioned in the preceding paragraphs.
  2. Be proactive to avoid the “double disruption” scenario caused by job loss due to the pandemic and job displacement due to technology integration. Consider taking an online course as an investment in your future. Although it would be nice to have your employer pay for the course, employers who uphold the neo-liberalism perspective often view reskilling as the responsibility of job seekers, not future employers.
  3. Do not be afraid to jump into HR even when you do not have any HR experience. The disruption currently taking place shows that people have moved into jobs for which they had no prior experience.

I hope you find this post thought provoking and informative. I look forward to seeing you in class.