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Why the demand for deep-tech skills in professional services is growing

9 Jan 2024

PwC’s Shomo Das discusses the growing demand for deep-tech skills and how emerging technologies will affect the professional services industry.

As part of our Tech Trends 2024 series, we at SiliconRepublic.com have been talking to industry experts about the various trends and predictions related to a number of STEM sectors, including many deep-tech areas such as generative AI and quantum.

As the deep-tech sector continues to grow and integrate into other sectors and industries, so does the demand for professionals with the deep-tech knowledge and skills required to keep up.

One company that is addressing the deep-tech skills shortage is professional services company PwC. To find out how the company is tackling the complications of deep-tech integration, we spoke to Soumyadipta (Shomo) Das, director of cybersecurity at PwC Ireland.

Can you share some key insights into the current landscape of deep-tech skills in the industry?

We are seeing a growing demand for deep-tech skills, fueled by the widespread adoption of advanced technologies like AI, machine learning and cybersecurity. The fast-paced evolution of technology, coupled with the global shift to remote work, has intensified competition for skilled professionals. This demand is driven by the need for data-driven decision-making and a continuous shortage of individuals with expertise in emerging technologies.

The increasing prevalence of AI and machine learning in various applications, from healthcare to finance, has fueled the demand for experts in these domains. Companies are investing heavily in AI to enhance automation, predictive analytics and customer experiences.

With the rise in cyberthreats, there is a growing demand for professionals with deep expertise in cybersecurity. Organisations are actively seeking individuals who can protect their systems, networks and data from evolving security risks.

The demand for these deep-tech skills is still more than the available resources in the market. To tackle this shortage, organisations are exploring different ways to recruit. This includes hiring resources from abroad, using contractual models to use specialists working from abroad. Organisations are also putting a lot of emphasis on training and certifications. These initiatives aim to upskill employees. Certifications act as proficiency benchmarks and partnerships with educational institutions or Big Tech firms (such as Microsoft and IBM) ensure tailored programmes. Firms are also stepping up on internal knowledge-sharing.

Deep-tech skills are often considered a scarce resource. How does PwC plan to address the skills shortage and build a team with the necessary expertise to support its alliance partners effectively?

Growth through strategic alliances is an important part of PwC’s strategy. Having strong professionals with deep-tech skills is vitally important in order to make the alliances successful. Key components of our plan include:

  • Identifying training needs and upskilling. This combines vendor agnostic certifications as well as vendor certifications. Both are becoming equally important day by day.
  • Recruitment is very important and we are investing heavily to recruit the right people both from the Irish market as well as internationally.
What role do you see emerging technologies, such as generative AI, playing in addressing the skills shortage and enhancing the capabilities of technology professionals in the industry?

Repetitive or routine tasks can now be carried out using generative AI. This will save a lot of time as well as help resources focus on solving more important challenges. Though, we will still need capable individuals to oversee the output generated by AI.

Tech professionals are now becoming sharper with generative AI helping them perform the more predictable, repetitive tasks while they focus on areas that will need deep-tech expertise. This in turn is helping tech professionals improve their capabilities in their respective fields as well as how they are effectively using emerging technologies.

In the context of deep tech, what trends or innovations do you believe will have the most profound impact on the professional services industry in the near future?

Organisations will leverage emerging technologies such as AI-driven automation and NLP (natural language processing) for document analysis. NLP algorithms will be employed to extract valuable insights from unstructured data, making information retrieval faster and more accurate. This will significantly streamline tasks such as contract review, legal documentation and regulatory compliance.

AI-driven automation will enhance operational efficiency, reduce manual errors and free up human resources to focus on more strategic and creative aspects of their roles.

Services will be developed to empower organisations with advanced analytics tools, enabling them to make data-driven decisions. Predictive analytics and machine learning algorithms will be applied to large datasets to forecast trends, identify opportunities and mitigate risks. Decision support systems will become integral to strategy development and execution across various professional service domains.

Given your experience, what do you see as the most significant challenges when it comes to recruiting and retaining professionals with deep-tech expertise in today’s competitive job market?

We need to ensure that we keep our professionals motivated with interesting work. This includes having these individuals solve complex problems.

We must ensure that a strong learning environment is in place with full support for getting the professionals trained and certified.

On a different note, achieving diversity and inclusion in the tech workforce is important. Overcoming biases and creating an inclusive environment is vital for attracting and retaining a diverse range of talent.

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