Quarter of jobs to change within five years, says report

Technology and ‘rise of green’ set to change nearly a quarter of jobs by 2027, Future of Jobs report finds.

The World Economic Forum’s latest Future of Jobs report, shows technology and the green transition are expected to change the nature of nearly a quarter of jobs (23 per cent) by 2027.

Macrotrends, including the green transition, Environment Social and Governance (ESG) standards and localisation of supply chains, are the leading drivers of job growth, with economic challenges including high inflation, slower economic growth and supply shortages posing the greatest threat.

The fastest growing jobs are AI and machine learning specialists, sustainability specialists, business intelligence analysts and information security specialists. The largest absolute growth is expected in education, agriculture and digital commerce.

Companies report that skills gaps and an inability to attract talent are the key barriers to transformation, showing a clear need for training and reskilling across industries.

Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of employees are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today.

Innes Willox, CEO of the national employer association, Ai Group — the Australian partner of the survey — said: the insights from this report highlight the enormity of the skilling and re-skilling task ahead – for our economy and many others around the world.

“Advances in technology and the transition to a clean economy will cause great upheaval in jobs and skills over the next five years, but there is great scope for growth, too.

“This is a warning to us all — industry, government and the education and training system — to get the policy settings right to meet these challenges, or risk being left behind.”

Technology driving jobs churn 

The data suggests technology adoption and digitisation will cause significant labour market churn — but result in net job creation.

Big data ranks at the top among technologies seen to create jobs, with 65 per cent of survey respondents expecting job growth in related roles.

The employment of data analysts and scientists, big data specialists, AI machine learning specialists and cyber security professionals is expected to grow on average by 30 per cent by 2027.

At the same time, the fastest declining roles are also being driven by technology and digitalisation, with clerical or secretarial roles including bank tellers, cashiers, and data entry clerks expected to decline fastest.

Automation shifting from manual to cognitive tasks 

The 2023 report suggests tasks are no more automated now than they were three years ago. About a third of tasks (34 per cent) are currently automated, just 1 per cent above the 2020 figure.

Surveyed companies also revised down their expectations for further automation, to 42 per cent of tasks by 2027, compared to 2020 estimates of 47 per cent of tasks by 2025.

But while expectations of the displacement of physical and manual work by machines has decreased, reasoning, communicating and coordinating – all traits with a comparative advantage for humans – are expected to be more automatable in the future.

Artificial intelligence is expected to be adopted by nearly 75 per cent of surveyed companies and is expected to lead to high churn – with 50 per cent of organisations expecting it to create job growth and 25 per cent expecting it to create job losses.

Rise of green, education and agriculture jobs 
Investment in the green transition and climate-change mitigation, as well as increasing consumer awareness of sustainability issues are driving industry transformation and opening new opportunities in the labour market. The strongest net job-creation effects are expected to be driven by investments that facilitate the green transition.

Roles including renewable energy engineers and solar energy installation and systems engineers will be in high demand. Investment will also drive growth in more generalist sustainability roles, such as sustainability specialists and environmental protection professionals, which are expected to grow by 33 per cent and 34 per cent respectively, translating to growth of approximately 1 million jobs.

However, the largest absolute gains in jobs will come from education and agriculture. The report finds that jobs in the education industry are expected to grow by about 10 per cent, leading to 3 million additional jobs for vocational education teachers and university and higher education teachers. Jobs for agricultural professionals, especially agricultural equipment operators, graders and sorters, are expected to see a 15 per cent-30 per cent increase, leading to an additional 4 million jobs.

The challenge for industry

The latest survey brings together the perspective of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers – in 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from across the world. As the Australian partner, Ai Group contributed the perspectives of our members to this landmark report.

The companies surveyed are planning to mix both investment and displacement to make their workforces more productive and cost-effective. Four in five surveyed companies plan to invest in learning and training on the job as well as automating processes in the next five years.

Strong cognitive skills are increasingly valued by employers, reflecting the growing importance of complex problem-solving in the workplace. The most important skills for workers in 2023 are seen to be analytical thinking and creative thinking, and this is expected to remain so in the next five years.

This article was first published by INCLEAN Australia 

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