The robots are coming… but we have nothing to fear, according to new research.
The Future of Jobs 2018, the latest report from the World Economic Forum, forecasts that by 2025 more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines, compared with 29% today.
But while this transformation will have a profound effect on the global labour force, in terms of overall numbers of new jobs the outlook is positive. As many as 133 million new jobs are expected to be created by 2022 – far more than the 75 million that will be displaced.
The report comes after Bank of England governor Mark Carney said that warnings about job losses from automation were overdone.
Training is key to ensuring that individuals will still have a role to play in the future workforce.
“It is critical that [businesses] take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning, and that governments create an enabling environment to facilitate this workforce transformation,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Based on a survey of chief human resources officers and top strategy executives, the report found that 54% of employees of large companies would need significant re- and up-skilling in order to fully harness the growth opportunities offered by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. At the same time, however, just over half of the companies surveyed said they planned to reskill only those employees that are in key roles and only one third planned to reskill at-risk workers.
Asked about the size of their future workforce, nearly 50% of companies said that they expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation. Meanwhile, almost 40% expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their business.
Among the roles that are predicted to be in greater demand are data analysts and scientists, software and applications developers, and ecommerce and social media specialists, all of which are significantly based on or enhanced by technology. Roles that leverage human skills, such as sales and marketing professions, innovation managers and customer service workers, are also set to experience increasing demand.