The future of the United Kingdom's place in the European Union (EU) remains uncertain after the deadline for reaching a deal for the departure was moved to Oct. 31, 2019, after initially being set for the end of March.

However, the assumption is that Brexit will happen, as such preparations must occur.

In 2016, Sadiq Khan, London's mayor, recognized the need to get ready for Brexit concerning the labor market. He stressed that skills devolution would be key to preparing the English labor market before and after Brexit.

England's voters returned the highest number of votes from the United Kingdom's countries to leave the United Kingdom.

Others have weighed in and said some kind of devolution process that allows local and regional governments to have their says once England separates from the EU should be worked out before Brexit.

Devolution is still happening, though. Later in 2019, the Adult Education Budget (AEB) will transition into several devolved authorities.

Those bodies will assume responsibility for making sure learners aged 19 or over in their areas have the appropriate access to education. There is also an EU-wide initiative called the New Skills Agenda that aims to take an all-encompassing approach to strengthen the workforce.

Given England's impending departure from the EU and the fact that legislators are helping people get equipped with the skills the future requires, which capabilities will help it remain competitive in the global workforce?

Here are four:

1. Cybersecurity

Research from NTT Security shows a connection between cybersecurity preparedness and competitiveness. As such, English job-seekers could be trained in cybersecurity and feel well-equipped to get jobs in their home country or elsewhere. The United Kingdom at large has the third highest demand for cybersecurity, and some experts say the lack of qualified talent is a substantial risk.

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Reports also warn that Brexit's uncertainty has a chilling effect on cybersecurity recruitment. That problem could worsen the skills shortage but might enable qualified workers in England with skills to meet existing needs.

2. Robotics

Companies around the world have seen the link between automation and competitiveness. A 2018 report from The Adecco Group emphasized how England and other United Kingdom countries need to focus on how to retain talent in a post-Brexit world, and now is the time to plan how to do that. It cited a statistic that showed the United Kingdom still lags compared to other nations that are implementing robotics.

The report said that in 2015, the United Kingdom had 10 robots for every 1 million hours worked, but Japan had 167 and Germany had 133. Automation allows companies to get more done in less time with greater accuracy while freeing humans from some of the most repetitive tasks.

The increased uses for robots in today's world have made a robotics engineer career path especially rewarding. Those who can anticipate future needs and prepare for them have the best chances for long-term success. They can potentially move into middle management positions after five to 10 years of experience, and assist companies with practical uses for robots that could boost productivity.

Provided that England beefs up its robotics talent before and after Brexit, it could strengthen its position in the global marketplace by harnessing automation.

3. Financial Technology

Financial technology — often called fintech — refers to computers and other technologies that help banks and similar entities succeed and meet current needs. Companies already realize that embracing fintech could bring about more competitiveness. However, it appears that in some places in England, residents find it difficult to land jobs in this sector.

According to one assessment from Omar Ali, a partner at EY, one in four banking and financial employees working in London are non-U.K. citizens, and 17% come from the EU. Even worse, 84% of financial firms in the U.K. say they cannot find enough native talent to fill their skills shortages, and 76% say the specialty expertise they need is not currently available.

If England can fix the fintech skills deficit, job-seekers will be in more favorable positions to fill needs for the foreseeable future. The statistics above show that the lack already exists. It's not likely to decrease after Brexit, especially as more financial brands look for ways fintech could help them meet goals.

4. Big Data

The World Economic Forum released a 2018 Future of Jobs Report that discusses some of the matters brought up here, including robotization. It brings up another emerging technology, too: big data. The document notes that by 2022, 85% of respondents in its report said they were likely or very likely to increase their investments in big data analytics.

Of all the technologies mentioned as potential investments for businesses in research, user- and entity-based big data analytics took the top spot as the most likely area to invest. In addition, 89% of respondents said skills gaps in their local markets caused a barrier to adoption. Although this report does not only relate to the United Kingdom, it highlights how big data knowledge is an essential skill for the future.

Flexibility for What's Ahead

Flexibility is a characteristic that allows people to adapt as job markets change — due to Brexit or any other reason. Technology is a common thread between all the jobs mentioned here.

That's a strong suggestion that if people in England want to get themselves as ready as possible for what the future holds, they should seek to improve their tech skills. Doing that provides the flexibility they need.

Kayla Matthews, Editor, Productivity Theory

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