The number of employers looking for staff to exhibit digital automation skills has doubled since 2019. 

New research from specialist recruiter, Robert Half, and global labour market trends firm, Burning Glass, indicates that demand for digital automation skills is set to double by the end of this year. This is compared to pre-pandemic data.

Through analysing 9,000,000 UK job postings, the research found that the number of jobs requiring automation capabilities is projected to reach 90,000 by the end of this year. This is over double the 39,323 jobs which required this in 2019, showing a growing number of businesses looking for people who can harness these skills.

Demand for automation proficiency is seen most within non-technical roles such as Management Consultants and Sales Directors, which has seen a 125 per cent increase since 2019.

This is compared to traditional IT roles which has seen a less steep demand, in contrast, of only 96 per cent.

Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, said:

With a staggering 86 per cent of high-performing employees saying they feel burnt out at work, its unsurprising that businesses are looking to automation to try and relieve some of the pressure.

These findings show that businesses understand they need to find ways to support and supplement their workers by removing more repetitive tasks and freeing them up to focus on more value-add activity. For example, we’re seeing sales directors being tasked with improving efficiency, and turning to automation, including software that auto-fills client contact forms during phone calls or using AI to support with on-the-job training. Across the board, companies need talented people who can help them identify, design and implement automation for their teams.

Due to this, the research identifies key areas that businesses must consider to help the process of integrating automation:

  • Looking for opportunities to test out pilot programmes to see how these projects could work and how the company could go about introducing automation
  • Conducting a cost-benefit analysis which would allow business leaders to fully understand how implementing an automated solution will affect the team, both from a cost and benefits standpoint.
  • Analysing how this will affect employee experience across the board – through conducting an impact analysis of the effects of automation on things like employee happiness, career development, and training and development so that they can anticipate and pre-emptively address these issues.

Matt Weston, Managing Director of Robert Half UK, continued:

As automation becomes more widespread, roles and job functions will change significantly.

This surge in demand means it’s more important than ever for businesses to invest in life-long learning. It’s estimated that 21 million UK workers will need digital upskilling over the next decade and automation needs to be a core element of such educational initiatives.

As such, executives should be reviewing their learning and development programmes to make sure they are able to provide the skills most urgently needed.

*This data was obtained from Burning Glass ‘Labour Insights Portal’ UK 2019 – 2021 between 1st January 2019 and 24th March 2021.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.