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New research indicates that two-thirds of UK businesses will recruit additional, permanent employees to cope with the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) next year, with project managers, business analysts and data protection officers likely to be particularly sought after.

The GDPR is set to introduce more stringent requirements around how firms maintain records of personal data and provide more transparency to the public when breaches occur. And many companies clearly have concerns about compliance, not least because the number of fines handed out for breaking UK data protection laws almost doubled last year.

The real pressure comes in the shape of heavy fines for those companies that fail to achieve GDPR compliance. Given that these can be up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of an organisation’s annual turnover globally, then it’s easy to see why such concerns exist!

The study, undertaken on behalf of Robert Half UK, polled over 400 directors from UK companies and found that 66% of firms intend to employ permanent staff to cope with the new rules, whilst a similar proportion (64%) also intend to take on temporary or interim staff.

So, what type of skills are likely to be in demand? Well, the study recognises that GDPR certified practitioners are currently in short supply. It, therefore, predicts that as the focus increases on compliance initiatives, there will be increasing opportunities for project managers (33%), business analysts with good analytics skills (26%) and data protection officers with sound regulatory knowledge (26%).

Softer skills such as strategic thinking (39%), communication skills (39%) and attention to detail (31%) will also be required to ensure that compliance professionals can play an effective role in influencing data practices and policies.

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