Future of Work

Jobs of Tomorrow: Opportunities and Skills

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The COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and related global recession of 2020 have created a highly uncertain outlook for the labor market and accelerated the arrival of the future of work. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report provides the insights needed to orient labor markets and workers towards opportunity today and in the future of work. The key findings include:

The pace of technology adoption is expected to remain unabated and may accelerate in some areas – Cloud computing, big data and e-commerce remain high priorities and there is a significant rise in interest for encryption, non-humanoid robots and artificial intelligence.

Automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, is creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers – The pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic downturn coupled with technological advances will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025.

The number of jobs destroyed will be surpassed by the number of ‘jobs of tomorrow’ created – By 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labor between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge.

Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years – Foundational skills continue to be the prominent skills requirement as businesses are forced to transform post-COVID.

The future of work has already arrived for a large majority of the online white-collar workforce – 84% of employers have accelerated their digital transformations including a significant expansion of remote work

Inequality is likely to be exacerbated by the dual impact of technology and pandemic recession – The lower wage workers, women and younger workers were the most impacted by the pandemic and the existing inequalities are likely to deepen even further.

Online learning and training are on the rise – The numbers of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative is up 4x, 5x for employer provisioned learning opportunities and a 9x increase for learners accessing online learning through government programs.

The window of opportunity to reskill and upskill workers has become shorter in the newly constrained labor market – 40% of core skills will change in the next five years is 40%, and 50% of all employees will need reskilling (up 4%).

Despite the current economic downturn, the large majority of employers recognize the value of human capital investment – On average, employers expect to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025.

Professions of the Future in Focus

Seven key professional clusters are emerging in tandem. These reflect the adoption of new technologies—giving rise to greater demand for green economy jobs, roles at the forefront of the data and AI economy as well as new roles in engineering, cloud computing and product development. On the other hand, emerging professions also reflect the continuing importance of human interaction in the new economy, giving rise to greater demand for care economy jobs; roles in marketing, sales and content production; as well as roles at the forefront of people and culture. The future of work shows demand for a broad variety of skills that match these professional opportunities, inclusive of both disruptive technical skills but also specialized industry skills and core business skills.

Identifying Rising Demand for Skill Sets

Increasing demand for high-growth professions has further driven the value of a range of distinctive skill sets that under­write these seven professional clusters and their promise of growth and prosperity in the new economy. New data gath­ered by LinkedIn and Burning Glass Technologies reveals that these in-demand skills span a diverse set of competencies. Based on a taxonomy first developed by LinkedIn with the World Bank, this report groups these skills into skills clus­ters: Business Skills, Specialized Industry Skills, General and Soft Skills, Tech Baseline Skills and Tech Disruptive Skills.

Business Skills are the set of skills required to operate or start an enterprise. The cluster includes skills such as Mar­keting, Project Management, Budgeting and Business Devel­opment.

Specialized Industry Skills are specific to the field of the professions in question, such as Documentation in Cloud Computing, Video and Editing in Marketing, Sales and Con­tent or Radiation Oncology (in the Care Economy professional cluster).

General skills (otherwise known as cross-functional skills) are typically non-cognitive capabilities which are needed across all professions. These include Leadership, Communication, Negotiation, Creativity and Problem-Solving.

Tech Baseline Skills span Basic Computer Lit­eracy, such as the ability to use the Microsoft Productivity Suites, alongside industry-specific applications of technology such as Web Design, Online Marketing, Social Media, Tele­communications, Drafting and Engineering Design Software, as well as Medical and Clinical Software.

Tech Disrup­tive Skills are those that allow individuals to use and design technologies that are set to impact business models and the labor market in significant ways over the coming years. These include Data Science, Natural Language Processing, Automation, Robotics, Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity.

The seven professions of the future outlined in this report, and their corresponding skills needs, reflect the signif­icant diversity of opportunity in the labor market, and offer opportunities for both high- and low-skilled employment. Despite overwhelming public focus on disruptive technolog­ical skills, this report shows the diverse skill sets in demand in the future. While disruptive technology skills such as data science and AI skills will certainly be critical to the future of work, so will caregiving, leadership, and the ability to provide learning and development. In other words, the transition to the new world of work will be both human- and tech-centric. As lines blur between conventional business roles and technology functions, there is a coming together of digital and human tasks best tackled by people with a broader, more holistic mindset.

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