Future of Work

5 growth engines driving the new jobs towards economic recovery – A summary of the Burning Glass Report, After the Storm

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The recession left in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented. The changes have been so profound that fundamental patterns of how we work, shop, socialize, travel and live have changed forever.

If the world is going to have a recovery that not only brings the economy back to where it was but also ensures a more equitable future, it is crucial to understand what jobs and skills are likely to drive the recovery. How will the new economic patterns be translated into specific roles and skills for workers? How can workers, training institutions, and employers anticipate what will be needed?

In this report, After the Storm, Burning Glass Technologies used their database of more than 1 billion current and historical job postings, along with expert views, to anticipate what jobs will be most important in the post-pandemic labor market.

Some key findings from the report include:

  • These roles will account for 15.5 million to 18 million new jobs created over the next five years.
  • These jobs represent significant fractions of the labor market: currently 13% of demand and 10% of employment, but in addition they are important inflection points for the economy. A shortage of talent in these fields could set back broader recovery if organizations can’t cope with these demands.
  • Jobs in these new “economies” are projected to grow at almost double the rate of the job market overall (15% vs. 8%).

The Readiness Economy – The pandemic has shown the weaknesses in health care, cybersecurity, insurance, and a range of other fields that provide social resilience. Roles like cybersecurity experts and software engineers will be in demand, but so will project managers and other organizers of work. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Information Security Analyst’s Outlook, cybersecurity jobs are among the fastest-growing career areas nationally. The BLS predicts cybersecurity jobs will grow 31% through 2029, over seven times faster than the national average job growth of 4%.

The Logistics Economy – Many of the fundamental concepts behind our supply chains, such as global sourcing and “just-in-time” manufacturing, buckled under the pressure of the pandemic. In addition to increased demand for advanced logistics skills and growth in advanced manufacturing as critical commodity production is “re-shored,” the Internet of Things will become more critical to creating chains that are both efficient and resilient.

The Green Economy – Despite the political reluctance to act on climate change, utilities and consumers are already placing their bets on renewable energy. Seventy percent of the new electricity generation expected to come online in 2021 is projected to be from solar and wind power. Ambitious climate goals and incentives are likely to speed the shift.

The Remote Economy – In at least some fields and roles, the shift to remote work forced by the pandemic is likely to be permanent. A growing dependence on data, software, and networks will drive change, while eventually artificial and virtual reality will play a larger role.

The Automated Economy – The pandemic won’t slow down the adoption of automation and artificial intelligence—if anything it will accelerate the trend. Employers will prioritize automation over hiring back low value workers. Jobs developing—and driving—automation will thrive.

Common Threads: Building Apps, Analyzing Data & Managing Change

Certain roles, and certain skills, cross over different economies since technological change is driving transformation everywhere. Also, that skills demanded in a specific role are often a combination of technical ability, human or “soft” skills, and specific industry knowledge. Software developers are a prime example. All of the five economies have strong demand for developers as they rush to implement new technologies. In addition to specific programming languages, developers need to understand the business case they are working on. A health care app has different demands than a supply chain management app or a financial services app.

Another consistent theme is project management. Any organization values the ability to get things done. And the larger the changes involved; the more employers need workers who can get them done efficiently.

Finally, the new insights provided by big data analytics are reshaping what organizations know and how they can act on that insight. Data science and analytics skills will be prized across sectors.

Previous Burning Glass research has shown that a success across occupations has come to depend on a set of New Foundational Skills: a combination of digital skills, human skills, and business skills. These skill sets allow workers to keep up with new technologies, collaborate in teams, and solve practical business problems.

14 Foundational Skills Key for All Graduates

These 14 skills are in high demand both for digitally intensive jobs and the wider economy. The outer ring shows the total open entry-level postings (March 2019-Feb. 2020) and the growth in number of postings (2017-2019).

A central part of rebuilding skills for economic recovery should involve career pathways—mapping out the shortest, most cost-effective ways to reskill displaced workers. In this approach, workers would build on the skills they already have to get to “adjacent” jobs that offer better prospects for pay and promotion. This can lead to a far more strategic approach to career development.

A retail worker in an electronics store could, with the addition of some basic computer skills, move on to customer support, and then to a Computer User Support Specialist. This kind of “help desk” job is a good gateway to an IT career, and particularly to the networking and cybersecurity roles needed in the recovery economies identified.

Jobs in the new economies – The report has defined four to five sub-sectors for each of the five economies:

  • Readiness: Biotech; Public Health; Infrastructure; Cybersecurity
  • Logistics: Manufacturing of PPE and Medical Equipment; Manufacturing of Pharma; Logistics and Supply Chain Management; IoT specifically in supply chain; Industrial Big Data Analytics
  • Automated: Robotics and process automation jobs; Artificial Intelligence, Natural Language Processing, Machine Learning; Computer vision and autonomous driving; AI (diagnosis) and Robotics in Health Care; AI in Finance and Investment
  • Remote Economy: Network engineers/ architects/support; AR/VR; Cloud related jobs; E commerce; EdTech
  • Green: Environmental Scientists, Engineers, and Technicians; Fuel Cell and Nuclear; Natural Resource Conservation; Pollution Removal, Waste Management, and Recycling; Renewable Energy

Since each sector is unique and distinct, the report does not provide a list of skills at the economy level, but rather at the occupation level. Read the report for additional details.

Power Skills in 2021: Resilience and Digital Fluency

The future of work is rightly now defined as the combination of the future of the organization, the future of the workplace and the future of jobs. Given that the pace of change has increased in 2021, it’s understandable why resilience and digital fluency topped the list of priority skills to build globally this year. To support economic growth and longevity, organizations and employees have to build an immense amount of resilience. This quality not only allows them to pivot from a technology perspective but also be adaptable in terms of how work and the workplace is structured.

Formal education is something everyone has to go through to a certain degree, and the knowledge it offers isn’t always that practical in real life. Lifelong learning is how you improve as a person, bit by bit and day by day. Lifelong learners recognize the importance and joy of growth and personal development, so they never settle for what they currently know and always seek to improve and build upon their current knowledge. Read more about 12 habits of people who value lifelong learning

Some learning resources to get skilled for these post-Covid roles

Cybersecurity Analyst

IBM Cybersecurity Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera

Professional Certificate in Cybersecurity Fundamentals on edX

Cloud Application Developer

IBM Cloud Professional Developer

IBM Full-Stack Cloud Application Developer Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM Full-Stack Cloud Application Developer Professional Certificate on edX

Data Scientist

IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM Machine Learning Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM Data Science Professional Certificate on edX

Data Analyst

IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM Data Analyst Professional Certificate on edX

Data Engineer

IBM Data Engineering Fundamentals on edX

AI Engineer

IBM Applied AI Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM AI Engineering Professional Certificate on Coursera

IBM Applied AI Professional Certificate on edX

IBM Deep Learning Professional Certificate on edX


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