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What are the most in-demand jobs in automation, AI and RPA?

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Hays’ Tim Olsen discusses the job landscape within the automation and AI sector and the most valuable skills for workers in this area.

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Automation is one of the most rapidly growing job markets right now, incorporating artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and robotic process automation (RPA).

Why the rise in demand for automation?

Businesses are realising the untapped potential of intelligent automation. As more adopt automation, those that do not are becoming less productive and will likely be left behind. An awareness of the value of automation is nothing new, but the boom in demand is largely driven by a need for greater efficiency, rapid deployment and scalability.

According to Deloitte’s 2020 survey, two-thirds of organisations surveyed also note the Covid-19 pandemic’s role in accelerating demand for automation. For these organisations, automation has facilitated remote working and helped them meet an increase in processing requirements.

It is no longer the case of whether to automate, but when, and the best time is always now.

Click here to check out the top sci-tech employers hiring right now.

RPA is a well-proved technology, but the integration of AI and other cognitive technologies broadens the scope of what can be automated and the scale of its benefits. This is accelerating the market even faster, and those with skillsets in both domains are therefore in high demand.

This demand is reflected in the training courses now available. Microsoft recently launched its own AI offering, Azure Applied AI Services, and MIT has just introduced a new RPA diploma course to meet market demand. Yet this is still a candidate-short field. The sector is growing more quickly than the skillset.

The value of transferable skills in automation

Jobs are often well-paid. In the UK for example, Glassdoor shows that RPA developers are paid, on average, £6,000 more than other developers. And jobseekers may already have some of the skills that recruiters are looking for.

I began my career on the shop floor selling mobile phones and was promoted to a management position before becoming a project manager, where I worked on speech technologies for Vodafone. Later, I moved to Capita, where I helped scale its automation department from three people to 177.

Automation has been my focus ever since, and I have seen first-hand how challenging it can be to find the right candidates to fill these roles. It is about getting that depth and breadth of skills that is difficult in the market. There are many transferrable skills which can help create a pipeline from a variety of jobs into the world of automation. Recruiters want to see that you have battle scars.

The most in-demand jobs in automation, AI and RPA

Project managers and business analysts are sought-after, while systems architects and lead developers are in particularly high demand. Experienced centre of excellence programme leads can be hard to come by, so are in highest demand.

It all comes down to experience. There are many candidates who claim to have RPA experience, but few of them have applied their skills broadly across multiple industries. People who can demonstrate a breadth of experience, including in cognitive technologies, are in highest demand.

While there are many developers in Blue Prism and UiPath, Automation Anywhere, developers are still scarce, and organisations are being forced to look overseas for resources. Knowledge of associated technologies such as cloud, chatbots and natural language processing are highly rated, while business analysts increasingly need to have deep knowledge of the vendor ecosystems and process/task mining to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Click here to check out more on the Hays Technology blog.

How to get a job in automation, AI and RPA

This is a growing sector, so newcomers can build their skills to make them employable in the longer-term. While there is no substitute for years of experience, many employers will be willing to overlook a lack of experience if the candidate can demonstrate key transferable skills, soft skills such as problem-solving abilities, or a commitment to learning and professional development.

Business analysts and project managers should be diplomatic with good communication skills. They should also understand the benefits of automation. Often, this job will involve learning how to automate certain areas of an employee’s job, which can make people concerned that their role is becoming obsolete. A good business analyst or project manager will be able to get all the information they need about a particular role while explaining how automation will help to make their jobs easier and more fulfilling.

Developers should consider specialising in complimentary technologies, such as cloud computing. As Microsoft’s Azure suite shows, the cloud can act as an entry point to the world of automation, so any awareness of cloud technology will help you understand how automation can work.

Potential candidates could sign up for online training with companies such as UiPath, Blue Prism or Automation Anywhere. These companies are on the cutting edge of AI, RPA and automation, and UiPath and Automation Anywhere currently offer free training courses that are recognised by most corporates with an interest in this field.

However, in such a fast-moving sector, it is important to top up your skills and qualifications, even after establishing your career.

Automation is the future

Automation, AI and RPA will transform the jobs market over the next few years. However, there is still fear around the impact automation could have on traditional jobs, and automation leaders around the world have been calling for an ethical roll-out of automated services.

For instance, companies might initially use automation to remove the more monotonous tasks which do not require much human engagement.

It is not about taking the human out of the equation; it is about taking the robot out of the human and liberating intellect. This takes away the drudgery of work and leaves people free to build relationships and be more creative.

Automation, AI and RPA can improve efficiencies, reduce costs and minimise churn. But there will always be a role for human interaction – whether that involves ‘managing’ your digital workforce as an automation specialist, or engaging with clients, colleagues and vendors.

The workplace will inevitably see a shift towards intelligent automation, and the most in-demand jobs will change over time, but the sector is here to stay.

By Tim Olsen

Tim Olsen is an intelligent automation director at Hays Technology.

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London is the best European city for founders, Startup Genome report

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The UK capital was the only European city to make the top ten in Startup Genome’s ranking, tying with New York in second place for the second year in a row.

London is Europe’s number one start-up city, according to a recent report by Startup Genome. The research and advisory body which specialises in start-ups released its ‘Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2021’ report today (22 September).

The report identified London and New York as joint second-best cities in the world for start-ups. London was the only European location to make it into the top ten. The city is attractive to founders thanks to its educated workforce and tax incentives, the report found.

Silicon Valley in California took the top spot, unsurprisingly. This year’s global rankings were dominated by the US, with half of the top 30 ecosystems coming from this region, followed by Asia with 27pc and Europe with 17pc of the top performing ecosystems globally.

Silicon Valley, New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles alone contributed more than 70pc to the US’s total ecosystem value.

Paris made the top 20, coming in at number 12. The Amsterdam-Delta region followed in thirteenth place. Dublin improved its rank from the previous year’s report, coming in at number 36 this time.

Beijing, Boston, Los Angeles, Tel Aviv, Shanghai, Seattle and Stockholm also made the top ten best start-up cities.

The global start-up economy is currently worth more than $3.8trn in ecosystem value. There are 79 ecosystems generating over $4bn in value, which is more than double the number identified in 2017. This time last year, 91 ecosystems had achieved unicorn status.

Also in 2020, Startup Genome published a report indicating its concerns over the future of the start-ups ecosystem during Covid-19. The report suggested that 42pc of start-ups were in what it called ‘the red zone,’ meaning they had three months or fewer runway ahead of them.

Several countries  including the UK, France and Germany introduced special support packages for start-ups. Irish non-profit Scale Ireland also introduced a similar start-up scheme for Irish companies.

“Entrepreneurs, policymakers, and community leaders in Europe have been working hard to build inclusive innovation ecosystems that are engines of economic growth and job creation for all,” commented JF Gauthier, founder and CEO of Startup Genome on the report’s release.

“The Global Startup Ecosystem Report is the foundation of knowledge where we, as a global network, come together to identify what policies actually produce economic impact and in what context,” Gauthier added.

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Facebook oversight board to review system that exempts elite users | Facebook

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Facebook’s semi-independent oversight board says it will review the company’s “XCheck” system, an internal program that has exempted high-profile users from some or all of its rules.

The decision follows an investigation by the Wall Street Journal that revealed that reviews of posts by well-known users such as celebrities, politicians and journalists are steered into the separate system.

Under the program, some users are “whitelisted”, or not subject to enforcement action, while others are allowed to post material that violates Facebook rules pending content reviews that often do not take place. The Xcheck system, for example, allowed Brazilian footballer Neymar to post nude pictures of a woman who had accused him of rape, according to the report.

Users were identified for additional scrutiny based on criteria such as being “newsworthy”, “influential or popular” or “PR risky”, the Wall Street Journal found. By 2020 there were 5.8 million users on the XCheck list, according to the newspaper.

The oversight board said Tuesday that it expects to have a briefing with Facebook on the system and “will be reporting what we hear from this” as part of a report it will publish in October.

The board may also make other recommendations, although Facebook is not bound to follow these.

The Journal’s report, the board said, has drawn “renewed attention to the seemingly inconsistent way that the company makes decisions, and why greater transparency and independent oversight of Facebook matters so much for users”.

Facebook told the Journal in response to its investigation that the system “was designed for an important reason: to create an additional step so we can accurately enforce policies on content that could require more understanding”. The company added that criticism of it was “fair” and that it was working to fix it.

A representative for Facebook declined to comment to the Associated Press on the oversight board’s decision.

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Philippines imposes 12 per cent digital services tax • The Register

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The Philippines has become the latest nation to impose a digital services tax.

Such taxes require the likes of Netflix and Spotify to pay local sales taxes even though their services are delivered – legally, notionally, and physically – from beyond local jurisdiction.

The Philippines has chosen a rate of 12 per cent, mirroring local value added taxes.

“We have now clarified that digital services and the goods and services traded through digital service providers should generally be subject to VAT. This is just a matter of common tax sense,” said Joey Salceda, a member of the Philippines’ House of Representatives and a backer of the change to the nation’s tax code.

Salceda tied the change to post-pandemic economic recovery.

“If brick and mortar establishments, which are the hardest-hit by the pandemic, have to pay VAT, the giants of e-commerce shouldn’t be exempt,” he said.

However, local companies that are already exempt from VAT by virtue of low turnover won’t be caught by the extension of the tax into the virtual realm.

Salceda’s amendments are designed to catch content streamers, but also online software sales – including mobile apps – plus SaaS and hosted software. The Philippines’ News Agency’s report on the amendment’s passage into law even mentions firewalls as subject to VAT.

The Philippines is not alone in introducing a digital services tax to raise more revenue after the COVID-19 pandemic hurt government revenue – Indonesia used the same logic in 2020 .

But the taxes are controversial because they are seen as a unilateral response to the wider issue of multinational companies picking the jurisdictions in which they’ll pay tax – a practice that erodes national tax bases. The G7 group of nations, and the OECD, think that collaborations that shift tax liabilities to nations where goods and services are acquired and consumed are the most appropriate response, and that harmonising global tax laws to make big tech pay up wherever they do business is a better plan than digital services taxes.

The USA has backed that view of digital services taxes, by announcing it will impose tariffson nations that introduce them – but is yet to enact that plan.

Meanwhile, the process of creating a global approach to multinational tax shenanigans is taking years to agree and implement.

But The Philippines wants more cash in its coffers – and to demonstrate that local businesses aren’t being disadvantaged – ASAP. ®

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