What's Trending in Jobs and Skills

Study Uses Big Data to Quantify Shifting Demand for Jobs and Skills

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—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 the 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 are 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 not only experienced average annual growth rates of more than 100% but have also 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, 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—showed particularly healthy growth.

In addition, the report found big growth in demand in some sectors that may be undergoing change but where the change is in the future—such as truck drivers. Today and in the 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.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

To arrange an interview with one of the authors, please contact Eric Gregoire at +1 617 850 3783 or gregoire.eric@bcg.com or Scott Bittle at +1 617 804 1549 or sbittle@burning-glass.com.

About Burning Glass Technologies

Burning Glass Technologies delivers job market analytics that empower employers, workers, and educators to make data-driven decisions. The company’s artificial intelligence technology analyzes hundreds of millions of job postings and real-life career transitions to provide insight into labor market patterns. This real-time strategic intelligence offers crucial insights, such as which jobs are most in demand, the specific skills employers need, and the career directions that offer the highest potential for workers. For more information, visit burning-glass.com.

About Boston Consulting Group

Boston Consulting Group partners with leaders in business and society to tackle their most important challenges and capture their greatest opportunities. BCG was the pioneer in business strategy when it was founded in 1963. Today, we help clients with total transformation—inspiring complex change, enabling organizations to grow, building competitive advantage, and driving bottom-line impact.

To succeed, organizations must blend digital and human capabilities. Our diverse, global teams bring deep industry and functional expertise and a range of perspectives to spark change. BCG delivers solutions through leading-edge management consulting along with technology and design, corporate and digital ventures—and business purpose. We work in a uniquely collaborative model across the firm and throughout all levels of the client organization, generating results that allow our clients to thrive.

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