A broad range of skills will future-proof your employment prospects

Debates about the future of work often focus on whether certain jobs are at risk of automation. But new research by Pearson, together with innovation organisation Nesta and researchers from the Oxford Martin School, says that many jobs today will still be in demand by 2030 and beyond, and other new jobs will be created.

According to the report, The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030, only one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink, while one in ten are in occupations that are likely to grow as a percentage of the workforce.

The remaining 70% of workers are in jobs where there is more uncertainty about the future, and these workers can boost their prospects by equipping themselves with the right skills. Investment in a broad range of skills — not just job-specific skills — is key.

Across both the US and the UK, the occupations forecast to most likely experience a rise in employment are associated with education, healthcare and wider public sector occupations. The future is also bright for creative, digital, design and engineering occupations.

Employment is expected to shrink in occupations related to manufacturing production and transportation. However, sectors like agriculture, construction and skilled trades are less likely to see significant job losses than has been assumed in the past.

The report highlights English language, history, philosophy and administration and management as “knowledge areas” which are all associated strongly with occupations projected to see a rise in workforce share.

Similarly, foreign languages and STEM-related knowledge (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) will be valuable complementary skills in some occupations — including those where Artificial Intelligence has an impact.

Strong interpersonal and cognitive skills will also be important as demand rises for uniquely human skills such as social perceptiveness, active learning, active listening, judgement, and decision making, as well as fluency of ideas, originality and oral expression.

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggests — it is not going to be human versus machine, but rather human and machine,” commented Pearson CEO John Fallon. “It is clear that technology is changing the global economy and labour markets, but we still retain the ability to control our destiny. We must re-evaluate the skills people will need for a digital future, and update our education systems to ensure teachers have the right tools to help students succeed in the workforce of tomorrow.”

For more on you can prepare your business for the future of work, see our reports on:

Sign up to our newsletter

Meet our experts