A researcher and recruiter walk into an interview – this is what they’re looking for in the 21st century workforce

Friday, October 19, 2018 1:04 pm EDT

Editor’s note: This interview with Kurt Bettenhausen, Senior Vice President, Corporate Technology, and Mike Brown, Vice President, Talent Acquisition, occurred during a Siemens-hosted event with research scientists and engineers, university deans and professors, futurists, workforce experts and senior leadership at its Corporate Technology R&D Lab in Princeton, NJ. Immersing themselves in the digital revolution, attendees didn’t put on virtual reality goggles or eat spinach grown by a robot farmer to simply explore cutting-edge technologies, but to experience the necessity of developing the human intelligence to unlock the full potential of Siemens technology. This interview is part two of a three-part series about the future of jobs – Live from the Lab. Read part one here.

With tomorrow’s technology being vastly different than it is today, how will your roles change? Is it still the same profession as it was before?

  • Mike Brown: For recruiting, people say AI could take us HR professionals out of the business. It’s true that a lot of the tasks recruiters now do will be changed by technology. Our role will evolve to be more like a talent concierge – someone still needs to talk to you to convince you that it’s the job for you.
  • Kurt Bettenhausen: For me, the focus is on the human. Eighty percent of our communication is non-digital. When we think about complicated tasks we want to solve, it’s essential we create teams where skills don’t overlap but complement one another. Even though technology and automation allow us to work remotely or work in different ways, there’s not a single challenge that can be solved by one individual from home. You can’t see the bigger picture. We need communication, interaction of humans. If we lose it, we lose innovation.

Since we’re living in a world where new tools are being introduced every day, do schools need to be preparing students for those? Or does that responsibility lie with corporations?

  • Bettenhausen: Everything we do – from visiting a university to integrating graduate students into our research projects here at the Automation Labs – opens the next door. It’s more important to be curious and open-minded to the next experience than to have technical training at the outset. We cannot predict what the jobs of the future will be, but we can get next-gen workers ready. At Siemens we do that through joint research with leading universities on industrial cyber protection and autonomous agricultural production for instance. Never-ending learning is the reality today.
  • Brown: Whether at the R&D or the manufacturing level, being able to get a realistic preview of what it’s like in the real world is important. That’s why we work with university partners such as Charlotte, NC’s Piedmont Community College to build responsive curriculum and host apprenticeships. That’s also why you’re seeing more corporate collaborations, where students are working within a team, directly within the organization. The end goal is that when students transition from school to a company they understand the workplace.

There are parts of a job that can be automated, and some that need a human touch. So what sort of skillsets are important regardless?  

  • Bettenhausen: Project management is a requirement. Communication. Creating a safe space for everyone’s ideas and opinions to be shared.
  • Brown: Knowing the workplace culture that’s right for you. If we made the newly-hired people at the company responsible for hiring the next year, I’d imagine they’d have as much success – if not more – than the hiring managers involved. There’s a culture here, a feeling to the way this place works – and it’s immediately evident if you interview someone who isn’t a fit.

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