World Economic Forum report on the Future of Jobs

Now in its third edition, the World Economic Forum (WEF) report maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change and direction of travel. New data from the Future of Jobs Survey suggests that on average 15% of a company’s workforce is at risk of disruption in the horizon up to 2025, and on average 6% of workers are expected to be fully displaced. The report notes that technological disruptions are currently accelerated and amplified alongside the COVID-19 recession. In this new context, for the first time in recent years, job creation is starting to lag behind job destruction—and this factor is poised to affect disadvantaged workers with particular ferocity.

However, in the mid-term, job destruction will most likely be offset by job growth in the ‘jobs of tomorrow’—the surging demand for workers who can fill 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.

In essence, WEF’s report is a mixed bag of two main factors – inevitable job losses due to the pandemic and also due to technology advances, however in the longer term the report considers that job growth will offset these losses. It is also apparent that the independent workforce will play a key role in economic recovery, with the WEF report noting that 41% of businesses plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialised work. Interestingly, this figure is higher within the UK, and the report notes the following UK-specific data:

  • 73% of businesses will hire new temporary staff with skills relevant to new technologies
  • 61% of businesses will hire freelancers with skills relevant to new technologies
  • 55% of businesses will outsource some business functions to external contractors

Whilst the current outlook for work is bleak, we must not forget the importance of the UK’s independent workforce which has previously been shown to play a critical role in enabling economic recovery from previous recessions.

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