Comprehensive Report on the Trends Shaping the Future of Work

Category Science

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The World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023 has predicted that over 673 million jobs will be available in the next 5 years, with big data and AI being the main drivers of job growth. At the same time, around 83 million jobs will be eliminated, with a focus on admin, clerical and record-keeping. Other areas such as education and agriculture are expected to experience significant job growth despite being vulnerable to automation and AI.

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There’s long been concern about automation and AI making jobs obsolete, and the release of ChatGPT and similar large language models has only fueled that fire. But AI isn’t the only trend that will affect the future of work, it’s one of several. The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, released this week, details the additional factors shaping how jobs and the economy will look in the coming years.

Peronal Data and Data privacy will become more vital in the workforce

The cliffs notes: Almost a quarter of jobs will change in the next five years, but not just due to AI. In fact, AI and other technologies are expected to have a net positive impact on job creation, while economic issues like inflation and supply shortages will be the biggest wrench in the spokes of the labor market’s growth.

803 companies were surveyed for the report, and they represented a diverse mix of industries and regions. They predicted that of the 673 million jobs in the survey’s dataset, 83 million will be eliminated, while 69 million new jobs will be created. This would yield a net decrease of 14 million jobs, or 2 percent of current employment.

Agriculture and Education industries are seeing growth, not elimination of jobs

But before we start chanting "death to AI," let’s dig into the anticipated causes of job growth and elimination. Though the report does show that technology and digitization will cause labor market churn, big data and AI will drive more job growth than anything else, with the most in-demand jobs being data scientists, machine learning specialists, and cybersecurity professionals. Demand for these roles is expected to grow an average of 30 percent by 2027.

Advanced Manufacturing will see an increase in highly subsidised jobs

There’s a flip side to the coin, though: up to 26 million clerical, record-keeping, and administrative jobs will be eliminated by AI and other digital technologies. 75 percent of the companies surveyed plan to adopt AI systems that will be able to perform these tasks. They’ll need employees to run those systems, of course, which may be why technological literacy was ranked sixth-most important this year, but expected to move up to the top spot in coming years. For now, analytical and creative thinking are the top two most important skills for employees to have (take that, AI!).

Soft skills such as communication, emotional intelligence and problem solving will be vital

Engineering skills will be in high demand in the near future too, particularly those related to energy. For all the talk about transitioning to green energy, the US actually has a shortage of the types of labor needed to make it happen. It’ll be hard to go all-electric without enough electricians, for example. More than half the companies surveyed said they plan to put some amount of investment toward sustainability, climate change mitigation, or the energy transition, and will see corresponding job growth.

Workforces will need to dedicate time to retraining and upskilling

The final two areas that will have the highest job demand are, somewhat surprisingly, education and agriculture. With robots and drones that can plant, monitor, and harvest crops, and computer programs that can teach students at any age, you’d think these would industries would be vulnerable to automation and AI. But the report found that jobs in education should grow by about 10 percent (that’s three million new jobs for teachers spanning from grade school all the way through university), and a 15 to 30 percent increase—that’s 4 million new jobs—for agricultural equipment operators, graders, and sorters.

Investment in sustainability and climate change mitigation will gradually increase

The report forecasts that over 60 percent of workers will require some retraining or upskilling for the job market, and that these changes will occur regardless over the next five years.

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