Dave Rees, Chief Sales Officer at SThree, discusses why humans are still at the heart of the recruitment industry despite fears over the impacts of tech.

When people speak about the future of work and automation, there’s a fear that tech, such as artificial intelligence (AI) is going to mark the end for human jobs.

But the requirement for human skills is bigger than ever despite the huge growth in tech across the world.

If we look at Google, one of the largest and best-known tech companies in the world, its parent company, Alphabet, said that it had more than 100,000 employees in April this year. That was up by nearly 20,000 from the same time in 2018. And in March this year, it was reported that the number of contractors the company used was around 121,000.

Google can replace many things, but it hasn’t replaced many of the jobs its people do.

So, if a giant tech company is increasing its workforce, why do people fear that tech is going to take all of our jobs?

Facing the fear of change

People tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives when it comes to tech because not everyone understands it. The lack of knowledge I sometimes see can be incredible.

To change that, educating people on how to interact with new tech is hugely important.

When I started at SThree, we had just started using email and if someone was coming for a job, we still had to queue to use the fax machine and then faxed CVs to customers.

Then when job boards and LinkedIn came along, it was seen as the end of recruitment and the need for human recruiters by some people.

But that didn’t turn out to be the case. In fact, humans are still at the centre of the recruitment industry.

Tech can’t build meaningful relationships with customers in the way humans can. But tech can help improve the experience for everyone involved.

Throughout the industry there has been a focus on AI matching to enhance the speed at which a CV can be matched with a role. It’s about bringing down the amount of time needed to draw up a shortlist, giving consultants the chance to focus more on interacting with candidates and clients.

For SThree, that’s been based on massive investment over many years in building a world-leading STEM database and networks to find the best talent. In our niche STEM fields, we are dealing with extreme levels of expertise which rely on human consultants even more than generalist recruiters.

At the same time robotic process automation (RPA) is helping to take away a lot of the mundane tasks for recruiters, while also helping to give candidates and clients a better experience.

It’s all about giving consultants time and space to build better relationships with customers. It’s not about replacing them.

Embracing tech in an ever-changing world

When it comes to tech and our relationship with it, we’re going through possibly the greatest, most rapid period of change ever.

But humans are incredibly adaptable, and everyone has a responsibility to try and develop and keep their skills relevant – the human brain is amazing.

Rather than fearing tech, we should all embrace it. It’s not all about replacing us, it’s about focusing us all on tasks that we can excel in and enjoy doing.

The output of that will be having a happier workforce and having a better working environment.