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Global warming is not the only phenomenon that many of us prefer to ignore. Have you ever spent weeks or months searching for jobs, made countless applications and found out that it was much harder than you had expected? You are not alone!

Be it digital disruption, the skills gap or complex application systems, there’s a major shift under way in the labour market, and job hunting is unlikely to get any easier in the coming years. The good news is that you can still weather the storm by preparing for it.

‘Skills gap is real and growing’

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner stated on Twitter that the skills gap is real and growing. One reason for that is undoubtedly the automation of low-skilled jobs as technology leaps forward.

Weiner also mentioned in his e-mail to LinkedIn employees in June 2016 that the dystopian view of the future – in which technology displaces millions of people from their jobs – was already happening. He continued, “In the last three weeks alone, Foxconn announced it will replace 60,000 factory workers with robots, a former CEO of McDonald’s said given rising wages, the same would happen throughout their franchises, Walmart announced plans to start testing drones in its warehouses, and Elon Musk predicted fully autonomous car technology would arrive within two years. Whether it's worker displacement, the skills gap, youth unemployment, or socio-economic stratification, the impact on society will be staggering.”

To overcome this challenge, employees need to be up-to-date with latest trends and technologies in their sectors, which also means that any knowledge acquired during their education should be easily applicable to their profession. This was exactly the case for Lilian Odeleye, who has an MSc in Operations and Supply Chain Management from the University of Liverpool Online. She says that her degree has improved her knowledge and performance, providing her with the skills she can easily apply to her job.

Advanced economies will be the most affected

According to an international report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), jobs in advanced economies are increasingly for high-skill workers, while the number of low-skilled jobs is expected to decline considerably in OECD member countries. With this trend and an indication from a 2013 McKinsey survey that less than half of employers in the EU are satisfied with their workforce’s skill levels, people may need to be better educated and gain more skills to land a job or to move ahead in their career.

But how do you increase your skills and education when you’re already working? For many of us, giving up our job or travelling to a university to gain a master’s-level education isn’t an option. One of the UK’s leading research universities, the University of Liverpool offers a solution in the form of a suite of fully online degree programmes that are tailored to the needs of working professionals around the world. Students can continue in their current job while acquiring skills and connections for the future. Small class sizes with international instructors and fellow students make for a highly collaborative experience that builds on each student’s professional experience, current responsibilities and career aspirations. For many online master’s and doctoral students, the highlight is the opportunity to research a topic that’s directly relevant for their own employer, workplace or career.

It is not always the job seeker’s fault

When an understaffed HR department receives a huge number of applications for every open position, using automated recruiting programmes is almost inevitable. Even though they are highly likely to miss out on a lot of great talent by just searching keywords on hundreds of CVs, HR departments often have no other choice. That’s why, for the individual job seeker, it can be crucial to have a large professional network – giving you contacts who could help recommend you for an interview – and to get some strategic career advice. As an online student with the University of Liverpool, you can expand your network as you interact online with other working professionals around the world. You’ll also have the opportunity to have unlimited career consultations in over 130 industries throughout your programme by getting in touch with experienced professionals through a Global Career Advisor Network. You can even consult with professionals from leading companies like Deloitte, Google, IBM and Microsoft.

As difficult as the labour market might get with time, keep in mind that with a good plan you can always find ways to turn a crisis into opportunity.

For more detailed information on the approaching workforce crisis and how to solve it, check out HR expert Rainer Strack’s TED talk.

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