Summary

The administrative and commercial managers plan and coordinate a range of functions (e.g. finance, policy, human resources, research and development, advertising, public relations) within their organisations.

Key facts:

  • The administrative and commercial managers plan and coordinate a range of functions (e.g. finance, policy, human resources, research and development, advertising, public relations) within their organisations.
  • The key five skills for administrative and commercial managers are communication, problem solving, teamwork, planning and literacy
  • They were among the top 25 occupations in terms of employment growth across the EU. In 2005-2015 their employment grew by about 7%. In the following decade Cedefop foresees an even larger rise (around 14%), translating into some 500 thousands of new job openings.
  • They are a shortage occupation in 11 EU Member States, while none EU country reports them as a surplus occupation.
  • More than 60% of them work in the business services sector, half of these in wholesale and retail trades and administrative and support services. Up to 2025, the strongest employment growth is expected in health, accommodation & food services, construction and financial and insurance activities. About two thirds of the total new jobs expected in the 2015-2025 period likely regard these four sectors.

Who are they?

The administrative and commercial managers [1] plan and coordinate a range of functions (e.g. finance, policy, human resources, research and development, advertising, public relations) within their organisations. Their job involves, for example, formulating and administering policy advice, strategic and financial planning, directing the development of initiatives for new products, marketing, public relations and advertising campaigns, monitoring and evaluating new policies and strategies. The two main subgroups for this occupational group are ‘business services and administration managers’, and ‘sales, marketing and development managers’.

What skills do they need?

Two broad sets of skills can be identified for this occupational group: (i) managerial skills, such as those identifiable for all types of managers, across sectors; and (ii) sector/industry skills, which are mainly affected by changes in the respective fields of activity.

According to Cedefop’s European skills and jobs survey (ESJS), the five key skills for this occupation are communication, problem solving, teamwork, planning and literacy. These skills could support employees in this occupation to also tackle anticipated future skill challenges (see drivers of change below).

Figure 1: Most important skills required for administrative and commercial managers

Where are they mostly in demand?

The labour market dynamics for this occupation differ across EU Member States:

Figure 2: Shortages and surpluses for administrative and commercial managers across the EU

According to Cedefop, administrative and commercial managers are highly demanded (i.e. they are in shortage) in Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

Regarding sub-occupations, a shortage of sales marketing and development managers has been highlighted in Denmark. Interestingly enough, surplus in this occupation is not highlighted across the EU-28.

What are the trends for the future? [2]

According to the 2014 European Vacancy and Recruitment Report, [3] administrative and commercial managers were among the top 25 occupations in terms of employment growth across the EU. In 2005-2015 their employment grew by about 7%. In the following decade Cedefop foresees an even larger rise (around 14%), translating into some 500 thousands of new job openings. In addition, about 1.5 million job positions will need to be filled by 2025, vacated due to retirement or other replacement reasons [4]. More information on this occupational group can be found here.

Administrative and commercial managers traditionally constitute a highly qualified occupational group, as only a third of them do not hold high-level qualifications and a quarter holds medium-level qualifications.

More than 60% of them work in the business services sector, half of these in wholesale and retail trades and administrative and support services. Up to 2025, the strongest employment growth is expected in health, accommodation & food services, construction and financial and insurance activities. About two thirds of the total new jobs expected in the 2015-2025 period likely regard these four sectors.

Which drivers of change will affect their skills?

The skills required for these managers have changed considerably in recent years due to technological change, globalisation, and demographic change. The impact of these drivers depends on the specific sector and nature of each manager’s job. For example, sales and marketing managers may need different skills from human resources managers to respond to even the same (economic, technological, social etc.) driver.

Technological developments will continue to change the skill profiles of these managers, especially given their major role on the collection, analysis and use of data (‘big data’) in their organisations. These managers will need to understand an array of new technologies, choose the ones that best fit their needs and deploy them within specific organisational and/or departmental contexts. [5] For example, technological advancements, such as automation and ‘blockchain’ distributed databases [6], are already radically changing job tasks in this occupational group.

Administration and commercial managers working in the banking and financial sector are likely to see the business models in which they work being disrupted by the “fintech” wave [7]. “Fintech” will create a need for people at ease with complex and evolving situations and with an aptitude for programming languages. [8] In the same sector, increased automation is bringing about the introduction of robot-advisors which are reformulating the way consumers take financial decisions. This, in effect, creates a new paradigm for the sector and subsequently its personnel.

“How to ensure your organisation is ready to take advantage of the FinTech people opportunity”

  • Encouraging and incubating innovation: Financial Institutions (FIs) need to re-learn how to innovate and attract talent with the right mix of technical and commercial skills. This involves a mind-set change from traditional leadership-down management to a model that encourages innovation.
  • Adopting a FinTech mind-set: Established and large financial institutions will need to experiment with new business arrangements (such as partnerships and joint ventures) to gain access to the talent and the innovation needed to pinpoint game-changing products. This involves identifying promising profiles and developing incentives to attract entrepreneurial talent.

Source: Blurred lines: How FinTech is shaping Financial Services, Global FinTech Report, PWC, 2016

A very recent but quickly evolving trend is the so-called “RegTech”: the use of technological solutions to facilitate the delivery of regulatory requirements. Corporate managers will need the skills to use and understand “RegTech” to facilitate their decision-making, for example on fraud prevention and easier collaboration with financial supervision. [9]

As international competition intensifies [10] effective resource management is key. Administration and commercial managers would benefit from skills like effective time, materials and budget management; motivation management (the development and direction of other people); assessment and monitoring of performance at personal and team level; and, co-ordination and optimisation of available resources. [11]

Growing trade globalisation in the ever-changing business environment stress the need for skills such as a capacity for anticipating and implementing change; being agile; and foreign language skills. [12] Exposure to foreign markets also requires thorough understanding and compliance with foreign regulations, as well as an understanding of foreign consumers.

For managers working in advertising, public relations and marketing, the growth of digital marketing has created new skill demands in areas such as social media optimisation, analytics and return-on-investment, and client management in international markets. [13] In sales, the increased prominence of web-based selling requires sales managers to embrace new techniques of customer handling and relationship-building skills. [14]

Demographic changes already alter labour markets significantly. Human resources and selection managers in particular are faced by now with challenges posed by the changed demography of European workforces [15]. Specific skills will be needed to manage the younger generations [16], facilitate knowledge transfer from older workers to younger cohorts (e.g. through specific pairing between experienced and inexperienced employees), and exploit fully the high level of digital literacy characterising generations Y and Z.

How can these skill needs be met?

The demand for new and/or updated skills of these workers is growing, due to the drivers above and other, more sector-relevant changes. It could be argued that this is reflected in the rising number of administrative and commercial managers participating in training in the period of 2011-2014 (from 443 thousands to 517 thousands) [17].

The training itself is provided by various means. For instance, private sector organisations with universities already provide classes on the effects of legislative changes, on specific topics relating to budgeting and amendments to executive processes, [18] or on programming for those dealing with ‘fintech’. Some programmes have a step-by-step approach, offering a tailor-made training plan to make up for students’ skills gaps [19]. These managers can strengthen their qualifications and skills by pursuing online competence frameworks, already established for specific sectors [20]. Exchanges of good practice for administrative managers can also bring benefits, as demonstrated at the European level where public-private cooperation activities have been used [21].

At the same time, employers have an important role to play. By offering training opportunities, and encouraging a learning-friendly corporate culture, they can actively prevent skill gaps [22]. Managers in this occupational group hold very important positions and failing to keep their skills updated could have major negative effects in the firm’s productivity and competitiveness.

Administrative and commercial managers in SMEs typically face greater constraints (such as in time availability and resources) compared with those working in larger corporations, which limit their training opportunities. The European Commission [23] has issued a guide to support SMEs overcome obstacles that hinder training. Additionally, SMEs can also benefit from working with business clusters that have both the infrastructure and the network to provide support and indirectly facilitate managers’ training.

References

[1] Defined as ISCO 08 groups 12 administrative and commercial managers. ILO, (2012) International Standard Classification of Occupations ISCO-08. Available here. More information on the occupation can be found here.

[2] All figures from 2016 Cedefop forecast except where stated.

[3] European Commission, (2014), European vacancy and recruitment report 2014

[4] The need to replace workers leaving a profession for various reasons, such as retirement. More information on replacement demand and how it drives employment across sectors can be found on the Skills Panorama here.

[5] Harvard Business School, (2012), How will the ‘Age of Big data’ affect management?, viewed 25 July 2016  and Brynjolfsson, E & McAfee, A 2011, Race Against The Machine: How the Digital Revolution is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy, Digital Frontier Press

[6] See, for example, Deloitte, (2015), Blockchain Disrupting the Financial Services Industry?

[7] The continuously developing technological innovations that significantly change the financial processes are described as “Fintech”. More information on the impact of “Fintech” on employees in the financial sector can be found in the Skills Panorama (Analytical highlights on Business and administration professionals and Business and administration associate professionals)

[9] See for example, Deloitte, (2015), RegTech is the new FinTech

[10] Dobbs, R., Koller, T. & Ramaswarmy, S., (2015), The future and how to survive it, Harvard Business Review, viewed 25 July 2016

[13] See, for example, the joint Master’s degree in Search and Social Media Marketing developed by an international partnership including universities and business schools in Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and the UK

[14] Council for Administration, (2012), Sales labour market report 2012

[15] EUROPOP2013

[16] Myers, K.K. & Sadaghiani, K., (2010), Millennials in the Workplace: A Communication Perspective on Millennials’, Organizational Relationships and Performance, J Bus Psychol (2010) 25: 225.

[17] Eurostat: Labour Force Survey. Calculations made by the EU Skills Panorama Team

[20] For instance the “Civil Service Competency Framework 2012-2017”, Civil Service Human Resources, 2012, UK Government, viewed 22 July 2016

[21] Interesting examples can be found in “Exchange of Best Practices: The CAF Experience”, 2006.

[22] Cedefop, (2015), Skill shortages and gaps in European enterprises, viewed 22 July 2016

[23] European Commission, (2009), Guide for training in SMEs, viewed 22 July 2016