Study Uses Big Data to Quantify Shifting Demand for Jobs and Skills | Burning Glass Technologies

BCG and Burning Glass Technologies Analyzed 95 Million Online Job Postings Over Three Years to Understand Demand for Jobs and Skills across the Entire US Economy – and Where That Demand is Growing

BOSTON, September 12, 2019—Technology is driving major shifts in the job market and that will require corporations, governments, and individuals to embrace new strategies, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Burning Glass Technologies, What’s Trending in Jobs and Skills, being released today.

BCG and Burning Glass, a leading provider of real-time labor market information, studied 95 million online job listings in the US from 2015 through 2018. The authors analyzed the number and growth rate of job listings and skill requirements across broad sectors and within hundreds of specific job areas, as classified by the US Labor Department’s O*NET occupation system. Through this analysis, the report identifies the fastest-growing jobs, and the fastest-growing skills, in the job market.

“No other job-market study to date has been as statistically extensive or exhaustive,” says Rainer Strack, managing director and senior partner at BCG and a coauthor of the report. “We not only looked at size and growth of demand over a three-year period, but we also pinpointed the jobs and skills that experienced the fastest growth from 2017 to 2018.”

Technology Extends its Reach

The study grouped jobs into categories based on growth rates. “High-growth” jobs—those for which the number of listings grew more than 40% annually during the three-year study period—included cloud-based services (such as senior cloud engineers and Microsoft Azure developers), enterprise automation jobs, Jira administrators, and cybersecurity engineers. But tech wasn’t the only sector experiencing such breathless growth: listings for HR onboarding specialists and talent coordinators rose more than 50%.

While the pace of growth for these jobs is startling, the demand for the technologies that underlie them is far broader. For example, in 2018 there were 14 times as many jobs calling for cloud computing skills as there were jobs for cloud engineers and demand for these skills

spanned occupations as diverse as software engineers, data scientists, product managers, and business development managers. Once-niche technologies are becoming mainstream.

Many of the individual skills for which demand grew fastest were linked to the widening adoption of emerging technologies, with demand for skills in chatbots, Amazon Alexa, data lakes, and cloud security all growing more than 40% year over year. Notably, quantum computing, digital currency, and natural language toolkit skills have each not only experienced average annual growth rates of more than 100% but they have also all seen growth accelerate even faster over the past year.

“Technology is creating new skills and those skills are reshaping the broader job market,” says Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies and a coauthor of the report. “Skills like machine learning and data visualization are now showing up across the board in a range of listings for roles such as marketing managers and business intelligence analysts, not just in the rarified domain of tech pioneers.”

“Fast-growing” jobs, those for which growth in postings exceeded 20% in each of the three years studied, include real estate positions, hotel clerks, interviewers, as well as computer-controlled machine tool operators and (in aircraft manufacturing) structure, surface, rigging and system assemblers. “These trends are evidence that new technologies don’t necessarily replace jobs, but often spur industry growth and job creation,” says BCG’s Strack.

A Spike in Personal Services—and Trucking

While the headlines emphasize AI, automation, robotics and the disappearance of manual jobs, not all low-tech jobs are fated to fade away. Personal services—fitness trainers, child care workers, and personal care aides–in particular showed healthy growth.

In addition, the report found big growth in demand in some sectors that may be undergoing change but for which the change is in the distance—such as truck drivers. Today and in foreseeable future, driver shortages are fueling demand. Autonomous driving technology may mitigate the shortages, but for now, demand for human-driven trucks is explosive.

By categorizing jobs and skills according to the size and speed of growth of listings, the report paints a more defined picture for companies, governments, and individuals so they can plan accordingly. Companies need to adopt corporate workforce strategies to systematically identify and fill their talent needs before they become critical. “Re-skilling is crucial, but that alone won’t be enough,” says BCG’s Strack. “Training, development, recruitment, and strategies to attract talent when demand is truly squeezed are critically important.”

Read a copy of the report here.