18 June 2024

New research reveals ‘hybrid’ skills are reshaping job demand in the UK

| The European |

The need for ‘hybrid skilled’ workers who possess both technical knowledge and softer, ‘people-focused’ skills is growing rapidly

Following the recent publication of Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report, the specialised recruiter today released additional data spotlighting the growth in employer demand for new ‘hybrid’ skills across the UK.

Produced in association with Burning Glass Technologies, Robert Half’s latest research evidences a definite shift in skills demand amongst employers in response to the adoption of new technologies and economic shifts experienced during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.[1]

‘Anywhere workforces’ and the increased demand for ‘hybrid’ skills

With hybrid workforces (where some employees work remotely and others at the office) now seen as a permanent part of the employment landscape by 89% of British employers recently surveyed by Robert Half,[2] job advertisements are requesting more people-focused skills for technical roles and, conversely, more technical, and data-handling proficiencies for administrative and marketing job functions.

Based on an analysis of all online job postings here in the UK during the period of December 2019 through until November 2020, examples of these new hybrid skill sets are impacting technical roles include:


  • +52% in system administrators required to satisfy customers 
  • +51% in software developers who are able to establish customer rapport
  • +42% in web and multimedia developers who can provide customer follow-up

Finance & Accounting

  • +100% in finance and insurance clerks with CRM abilities 
  • +46% in securities and finance dealers required to establish customer rapport
  • +25% in management and organisational analysts to apply conceptual thinking

Conversely, for more traditionally ‘people-focused’ roles, there has been an even greater uptick in demand for technical skills, with examples including:

Office, HR and Secretarial 

  • +82% in demand for general office clerks with business process skills
  • +50% in administrative and executive secretaries with business intelligence skills
  • +23% in enquiry Clerks with database management capabilities

Marketing, Advertising and Communications

  • More than triple the demand (+208%) for advertising and public relations managers with software configuration skills
  • Nearly double the demand (+90%) for advertising and public relations managers with CSS skills
  • +71% in sales and marketing managers who can apply information security policies

Whilst always sought-after, many of the above-referenced skills have definitely seen an uptick in demand over recent months as companies swiftly adapted to remote work and adopted both new technologies and processes in response to COVID-19,” said Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, in announcing today’s research results.

“Three of the top business priorities for the first half of 2021 amongst General Managers we recently surveyed include talent management (44%), identifying new opportunities for business growth (42%) and investing in new technologies (41%). This combination of talent, business growth, and new technologies is not only informing recovery strategies for many companies at this stage of the pandemic but is also directly translating into new-look job descriptions and evolving skill sets. As much as the ‘anywhere workforce’ is likely to be a permanent part of the employment landscape moving forward, so too is demand for these new hybrid skills.” 

“The skills employers need are not only evolving rapidly but also reshaping and combining in new and often unexpected ways. Just a few years ago, no one would have thought advertising and marketing managers would need to configure software, or that software developers would need the skills to build rapport with customers. But advancing technology is creating both new opportunities for workers and new challenges for employers trying to fill roles,” adds Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies. 

For employers wanting to develop a hybrid skills-focused team culture, Robert Half suggests formulating a five-step plan, inclusive of evaluating business goals and priorities, conducting a skills and job function audit and building a flexible staffing plan – all informed by the concept of ‘lifelong learning’. 

Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, concludes: “From a skills evolution and demand perspective, COVID-19 can be seen as the ultimate disruptor and accelerator. With one recent report estimating that 21 million UK workers will need basic digital skills and 14 million enhanced interpersonal and advanced communications skills by 2030,[3] the time to take constructive steps in developing hybrid skills is now – particularly for those companies eager to the more resilient, adaptable, and agile workforces needed for their pandemic recovery efforts.”

Further information



[1] Baseline- and technology/software-specific skills requested in all online job postings here in the UK were analysed by Burning Glass Technologies for the period of December 2019 through to November 2020.
[2] Both this hybrid workforce data and the General Managers’ 2021 strategic priorities information to follow (where multiple responses were permitted) is derived from Robert Half commissioned research from 1,500 executives using an online data collection methodology conducted during November 2020. This was comprised of 300 interviews each in Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Respondents included General Managers, Chief Financial Officers and Chief Information Officers with hiring responsibilities across small (50-249 employees), medium (250-499) and large (500+ employees) from private, publicly listed, and public sector businesses across the five markets.
[3] Learning for life: funding world class adult education report, Page 11 (CBI, October 2020. Quoting McKinsey UK Skills Mismatch research data).

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