As 2017 is about to end & the talent landscape continues to evolve, experts analyzed hiring and workplace trends for the next year. With employment increased by an average of 167,000 jobs per month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor market remains competitive, and employers will need new strategies to attract top talent and meet business demands.

“Technology has significantly impacted business models in nearly every sector. “The growing STEM skill shortage, AI both disrupting and creating jobs and talent driving a shift toward flexible work arrangements is a lot for employers to keep up. It needs progressive thinking to find talent & meet short- & long-term needs. We’re still at the beginning of most of this, but digitization might advance the pace of change in the labor market & workforce in 2018.”

Executives from a wide range of disciplines identified trends and market factors that will impact the Saudi Arabia workplace in 2018:

The talent shortage might outpace salary stagnation. Several businesses have not yet upgraded their pay packages to reflect workplace realities, especially for rare talent. Employing managers could weigh the significance of the quality of an applicant against the price to recruit them, & companies that continue to keep salaries below market might struggle. It will also drive employers to more broadly offer nontraditional benefits, such as wellness perks and competitive maternity and paternity leave.

Agile and flexible workforce models will expand. Sixty-one percent of workers expect to choose flexible work opportunities by 2019.

Research shows that candidates don’t just want, but expect the option to work from home, work part-time, or have access to flexible scheduling. Flexible work arrangements will remain key to employee attraction and retention, and companies will expand their use of athletic talent by filling one-time temporary resources and seasonal staffing needs or bringing in highly-specialized consultants to tackle critical initiatives.

Employers will hire for culture and soft skills, train on hard skills. With a depleted candidate pool, employers are struggling more than ever to identify right-fit candidates with the depth of necessary skills. While hard skills reign in sectors like technology and healthcare, less-teachable soft skills will continue to be critically important—even in a more technology-driven work environment. Employers will increasingly focus on training existing or future hires, especially when they find the culture fit they are looking for or excellent soft skills.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skill requirements will continue to enhance. Although much of the company discourse around the STEM skills gap points on jobs that require advanced degrees, midlevel STEM jobs like computer-aided specialists, web developers, and engineering technicians are actually in high demand. These vacancies establish a real opportunity for workers to up skill workers with high potential and the ambition to grow.

Artificial intelligence & automation will advance. Several organizations have already begun incorporating automation into their workflows to make their employees and processes more effective and efficient. But, despite fears that automation will eliminate jobs, the need for skilled humans to operate, use, and advanced technologies might remain essential for the for upcoming trend.

Talent analytics might become more sophisticated. Data is evolving beyond metrics like worker engagement & retention rates. In 2018, many organizations will place data at the forefront of strategic workforce planning, with parameters that assist them to understand how to build better teams, make more processes flexible or lean, analyze the use of resources across the company, & genuinely appreciate the output of cross-functional teams.