WEF Future of Jobs report: technology is the enabler, humans are the key
Reading the World Economic Forum Report 2023 was certainly interesting for those who, like us, deal with data, digital and artificial intelligence and do so with a particularly attentive eye on human resources.
What clearly emerges from reading the document, drawn up on the basis of interviews with 803 companies that employ over 11 million people worldwide, is that these three words: data, digital and AI, are at the heart of the future of work.
Technology adoption will remain a key driver of business transformation in the next five years. Over 85% of organizations surveyed identify increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation in their organization.
Within technology adoption, big data, cloud computing and AI lead the way on likelihood of adoption. More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years.
Will technology’s impact on work be positive or negative?
The impact of most technologies on jobs is expected to be a net positive over the next five years. Big data analytics, climate change, environmental management technologies, and encryption and cybersecurity are expected to be the biggest drivers of job growth.
Agriculture technologies, digital platforms and apps, e-commerce and digital trade, and AI are all expected to result in significant labour market disruption. While substantial proportions of companies are forecasting job displacement in their organizations, it is offset by job growth elsewhere to result in a net positive. All but two technologies are expected to be net job creators in the next five years: humanoid robots and non-humanoid robots.
Artificial intelligence, a key driver of potential algorithmic displacement, is expected to be adopted by nearly 75% of surveyed companies and is expected to lead to high churn – with 50% of organizations expecting it to create job growth and 25% expecting it to create job losses.
Which roles will be growing?
The fastest-growing roles relative to their size today are driven by technology, digitalization and sustainability. The majority of the fastest growing roles are technology related roles. AI and Machine Learning Specialists top the list, followed by Sustainability Specialists, Business Intelligence Analysts and Information Security Analysts. Renewable Energy Engineers, and Solar Energy Installation and System Engineers are relatively fast-growing roles, as economies shift towards renewable energy.
What skills will be needed the most?
Analytical thinking and creative thinking remain the most important skills for workers in 2023. Analytical thinking is considered a core skill by more companies than any other skill and constitutes, on average, 9% of the core skills reported by companies.
Employers estimate that 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years. Cognitive skills are reported to be growing in importance most quickly, reflecting the increasing importance of complex problem-solving in the workplace. Surveyed businesses report creative thinking to be growing in importance slightly more rapidly than analytical thinking. Technology literacy is the third-fastest growing core skill.
Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today. The highest priority for skill training from 2023-2027 is analytical thinking, which is set to account for 10% of training initiatives, on average. The second priority for workforce development is to promote creative thinking, which will be the subject of 8% of upskilling initiatives. Training workers to utilize AI and big data ranks third among company skills-training priorities in the next five years and will be prioritized by 42% of surveyed companies.
Respondents express confidence in developing their existing workforce, however, they are less optimistic regarding the outlook for talent availability in the next five years. Accordingly, organizations identify skills gaps and an inability to attract talent as the key barriers preventing industry transformation. In response 48% of companies identify improving talent progression and promotion processes as a key business practice that can increase the availability of talent to their organization.