A substantive reduction in the global workforce - due to automation - is expected to occur in the next 3 years. However, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF), some businesses are more excited than anxious.

The WEF report states that 38% of businesses are positive about the future of jobs; they ‘expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles’. Inevitably the new roles will entail new tasks, so to avoid skills shortages companies and educators need to make this a priority:

“By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year.”

Source: World Economic Forum

Upon that reskilling and upskilling, the WEF says that there will be a ‘net positive outlook for jobs’.

Understandably, though, many people are baffled: which skills should be nurtured and honed and which ones discarded? The following table created by the WEF goes some way to clarifying this, although I believe in many respects it’s a ‘wait and see’ situation.

 

How did we get here?

The future of work has been growing legs thanks to several drivers of change. The name we have given collectively to these drivers of change is: The Fourth Industrial Revolution. It was in the previous three industrial revolutions where work and domain expertise became more pronounced in society.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is doing away with work as we know it and domain expertise as we know it. The drivers of change specifically referenced to in the WEF report are:

  • High-speed mobile internet
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Big data analytics
  • Cloud technology

These inventions are causing immense change and disruption in most, if not all industries. But disruption is not entirely bad experts are asserting. Disruption in the education space, for instance, is something that could democratize education with more people able to access it.

 

What can you do?

The WEF reckons that we need to be aware of the rapid development of technology, but particularly with regards to its impact on our jobs. The report suggests that upskilling to meet these shifting job requirements, throughout a career, is best practice for workers in the modern age.

The WEF says that workplaces are going to undergo accelerated technology adoption, but that there will be positive spin-offs: it will relieve workers from some dangerously physical work and will allow us to dodge the more repetitive and dull tasks. Furthermore, the report stated:

 “Our findings indicate that by 2022, augmentation of existing jobs through technology may free up workers from the majority of data processing and information search tasks--and may also increasingly support them in high-value tasks such as reasoning and decision-making as augmentation becomes increasingly common over the coming years as a way to supplement and complement human labor.”

 

Works Cited

“The Future of Jobs Report 2018.” World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2018.

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