Our job is keeping track of other people’s jobs, so when we saw the story in today’s Wall Street Journal about “hedgehog officers” in the UK, we had to go to our Labour Insight™ database and look it up. Not surprisingly, when you search for hedgehog-related jobs in the UK, we pick up on more than 120 openings, counting jobs at Sega, pediatric wards, and even genetic research.

But it turns out that hedgehog protection can be a surprisingly high-tech field.

The much-beloved British hedgehog has seen its population decline steeply over the past few years. As a result, the Journal reports, the British Hedgehog Preservation Society has deployed four hedgehog officers to preserve and protect the creatures, backed up by even greater numbers of volunteers.

On the surface, hedgehog officer sounds like a job much in the English countryside tradition—and yet it’s also an example of how technology skills are becoming a requirement in fields far from Silicon Valley.

Our technology picked up the eight advertised hedgehog-related positions (including part-time Hedgehog Care Assistants and Hedgehog Welfare Volunteers). When we analyzed the skills required, we found they are pretty diverse. Animal welfare, conservation, and ecological monitoring are all important, as are community engagement, administrative tasks, and public speaking.

But they also require digital skills, such as setting up databases of volunteers for promoting hedgehog awareness, as well as databases of local garden owners and businesses who wish to make their gardens more hedgehog friendly. Social media campaigning and sending out newsletters are also required.

That is more evidence of a trend we’ve seen in both the United States and the UK: the expansion of digital skills in the job market. Eight in 10 middle-skill jobs in the United States are “digitally intensive,” while 20% of “career track” jobs now require the ability to write code.  Many of these jobs are in fields not usually associated with technology, like marketing and design. So it’s no surprise to see the trend spreading to conservation jobs as well.

You’ll still need lots of shredded newspaper for the cages, however.

Matthew Sigelman is CEO of Burning Glass Technologies.
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