Jeopardized Jobs Present HR Challenge

By Dana Wilkie Jun 22, 2014

Hank web mug.jpgORLANDO, FLA.--With technology performing many of the jobs people once did, it will be up to HR professionals to sharpen the skills that only human beings can bring to a workplace, Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) President and CEO Henry G. “Hank” Jackson said Sunday during SHRM’s Annual Conference & Exposition. 

In fact, some research estimates that nearly half of all U.S. jobs will be replaced by machines or software in the next 10 to 20 years, and that 2 billion jobs worldwide will disappear by 2030, Jackson told attendees.

“We’re the ones who can prepare workers for the jobs of the future—through training, through upskilling and re-skilling,” he said. “We’re the ones who can find that top-notch talent every business will need in the future. And we’re the ones who know how to build cultures that unleash our unique advantages as humans.”

Technology Can’t Do it All

Because of technology like that produced by San Francisco-based Uber—whose popular apps instantly connect users with drivers just minutes away, “what does it mean for the people who work as taxi dispatchers?” Jackson asked. And because banking apps now let customers manage their money with just a few taps of the finger, “what does that mean for bank tellers in brick-and-mortar buildings?”

Even in the HR profession, Jackson said, software is replacing administrative functions, while some businesses are asking if they need HR professionals at all. 

“What do we do about it?” Jackson asked. “I believe that as a profession, HR must have a laser-like focus on people.”

That, Jackson said, means the HR leaders of the future will need to focus on things that people—not computers or machines—can do: imagine, create, build teams, lead and envision the big picture. “With robots taking on the more dangerous, routine work, people are freed up to do things like manage others,” he said.

Certifications for the Future

The demands of the future workplace, Jackson said, is one reason SHRM in 2015 will start offering a competency-based certification for HR professionals that identifies the skills needed to grow and succeed in HR careers. The skills fall under eight behavior competencies and one technical, or functional, competency. SHRM will offer two certifications—SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP). 

The tests will focus on behaviors and leadership and will also examine how professionals behave, and what leadership qualities they apply, under various scenarios. 

While the new credential does not require giving up other existing certifications, Jackson sees it as the credential HR professionals will choose to have.

“Today and well into the future, it won’t be what you know,” he said. “It’ll be what you can do with what you know.” 

Dana Wilkie is an online editor/manager for SHRM.


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