Future of Jobs Report 2018: Drivers of Change
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, companies are seeking to harness new and emerging technologies to reach higher levels of efficiency of production and consumption, expand into new markets, and compete on new products for a global consumer base composed increasingly of digital natives.
To harness the transformative potential of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business leaders across all industries and regions will need to formulate a comprehensive workforce strategy ready to meet the challenges of this new era of accelerating change and innovation.
The World Economic Forum’s ‘The Future of Jobs’ Report 2018’ proposed a new vision for the global labour market and included key findings and drivers of changes. Four specific technological advances—ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence; widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology—are set to dominate the 2018–2022 period as drivers positively affecting business growth.
Accelerated technology adoption
By 2022, according to the stated investment intentions of companies surveyed for this report, 85% of respondents are likely or very likely to have expanded their adoption of user and entity big data analytics.
Similarly, large proportions of companies are likely or very likely to have expanded their adoption of technologies such as the internet of things and app- and web-enabled markets and to make extensive use of cloud computing. Machine learning and augmented and virtual reality are poised likewise to receive considerable business investment.
Changing employment types
Nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will lead to some reduction in their full-time workforce by 2022, based on the job profiles of their employee base today. However, 38% of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, and more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise.
Also, businesses are set to expand their use of contractors doing task-specialised work, with many respondents highlighting their intention to engage workers more flexibly, utilising remote staffing beyond physical offices and decentralisation of operations.
Growing skills instability
Given the wave of new technologies and trends disrupting business models and the changing division of labour between workers and machines transforming current job profiles, the vast majority of employers surveyed for this report expect that, by 2022, the skills required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly. Global average skills stability—the proportion of core skills required to perform a job that will remain the same—is expected to be about 58%, meaning an average shift of 42% in required workforce skills over the 2018–2022 period.
Insufficient reskilling and upskilling
Employers indicate that they are set to prioritize and focus their re- and upskilling efforts on employees currently performing high-value roles as a way of strengthening their enterprise’s strategic capacity, with 54% and 53% of companies, respectively, stating they intend to target employees in key roles and in frontline roles which will be using relevant new technologies.
Also, 41% of employers are set to focus their reskilling provision on high-performing employees while a much smaller proportion of 33% stated that they would prioritise at-risk employees in roles expected to be most affected by the technological disruption. In other words, those most in need of reskilling and upskilling are least likely to receive such training.
The findings of this report suggest the need for a comprehensive ‘augmentation strategy’, an approach where businesses look to utilise the automation of some job tasks to complement and enhance their human workforces’ comparative strengths and ultimately to enable and empower employees to extend to their full potential.
However, to unlock this positive vision, workers will need to have the appropriate skills enabling them to thrive in the workplace of the future and the ability to continue to retrain throughout their lives. Crafting a sound in-company lifelong learning system, investing in human capital and collaborating with other stakeholders on workforce strategy should thus be key business imperatives, critical to companies’ medium to long-term growth, as well as an important contribution to society and social stability.