Future Jobs Report highlights Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of automation

Posted on 22 Oct 2020 by Tom Lane

A new report by The World Economic Forum has found that the Covid-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns have accelerated the adoption of automation.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 Report  indicated that the shift to automation would create 97 million new jobs by 2025. However, it will disrupt 85 million jobs in the process.

The new jobs would have an emphasis on skills in analytical thinking and creativity. The top emerging professions will be in data and artificial intelligence, content creation and cloud computing.

Although the number of jobs destroyed will be surpassed by the number of ‘jobs of tomorrow’ created, in contrast to previous years, job creation is slowing while job destruction accelerates. Employers expect that by 2025, increasingly redundant roles will decline from being 15.4% of the workforce to 9% (6.4% decline), and that emerging professions will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth) of the total employee base of company respondents.

Based on these figures, they estimate that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms.

smart factory – automation – image courtesy of Depositphotos

“COVID-19 has accelerated the arrival of the future of work,” WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi said in a statement. “Accelerating automation and the fallout from the COVID-19 recession has deepened existing inequalities across labour markets and reversed gains in employment made since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008.”

Zahidi noted that there is a rapidly closing window for managers to get ahead of this change, and help their workforce retrain for new types of roles. “Businesses, governments, and workers must plan to urgently work together to implement a new vision for the global workforce,” she said.

Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in prominence in the lead up to 2025 include groups such as critical thinking and analysis as well as problem-solving, and skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018.

Automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, is creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers. In addition to the current disruption from the pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic contraction, technological adoption by companies will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025.

Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration.

You can read the full Future of Jobs 2020 Report here.