Technology and digitisation to disrupt 23 per cent of jobs

Almost one-quarter of jobs will be disrupted in the next five years, with technology and digitisation fuelling the fastest growing and declining roles.

The World Economic Forum has released its The Future of Jobs Report 2023 and it reveals 23 per cent of jobs are expected to change.

Critically, real estate is expected to have one of the highest five-year churn rates at 27 per cent, while also being named as one of the industries least likely to adopt new technologies.

The findings are largely based on a survey of 803 companies employing 11.3 million people in 45 different economies worldwide.

By 2027 some 69 million new jobs will have been created, but 83 million will have been eliminated, creating a drop of 14 million jobs, or 2 per cent of current employment.

“The largest losses are expected in administrative roles and in traditional security, factory and commerce roles,” the report said.

Fastest growing and declining roles

World Economic Forum Managing Director Saadia Zahidi said the fastest growing roles were being driven by technology and digitisation.

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 cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow on average by 30 per cent by 2027. 

Training workers to utilise AI and big data will be prioritised by 42 per cent of surveyed companies in the next five years, ranking behind analytical thinking (48 per cent) and creative thinking (43 per cent) in importance.

Digital commerce will lead to the largest absolute gains in jobs: about two million new digitally enabled roles are expected, such as e-commerce specialists, digital transformation specialists, and digital marketing and strategy specialists.

“For people around the world, the past three years have been filled with upheaval and uncertainty for their lives and livelihoods, with COVID-19, geopolitical and economic shifts, and the rapid advancement of AI and other technologies now risks adding more uncertainty,” Ms Zahidiid said.

“The good news is that there is a clear way forward to ensure resilience.

“Governments and businesses must invest in supporting the shift to the jobs of the future through the education, reskilling and social support structures that can ensure individuals are at the heart of the future of work.”

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.

Automated tasks

The report showed about one-third of tasks are currently automated, with companies surveyed expecting this to increase to 42 per cent of tasks by 2027.

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

While respondents operating in different industries show differing preferences for technologies, there are a few industries that show much higher overall expectations to adopt new technologies while some are more cautious” the report said.

“The electronics and chemical and advanced materials industries are planning to adopt more technologies than average, while the employment services, insurance and pension management, and real estate industries are the least inclined to adopt new technologies.”

Labour-market churn

The report also provides insight into structural labour-market churn, which is the number of expected new jobs, plus the number of roles expected to be displaced during the period, divided by the size of the labour force in question. 

“Overall, this report estimates a mean structural labour-market churn of 23% for surveyed companies across sectors and countries over the next five years,” it said.

The media, entertainment and sports industry is expected to have the highest labour-market churn at 32 per cent, while the real estate sector comes in fourth with 27 per cent labour-market churn.

“This report’s churn analysis suggests a higher than average churn from 2023 to 2027 in the supply chain and transportation and media, entertainment and sports industries, where respondents estimate structural five-year churn to be 29 per cent and 32 per cent respectively, but lower than average churn in accommodation, food and leisure; manufacturing and retail; and wholesale of consumer goods,” the report said.

“Relatively high churn is also forecast in the telecommunications and media, entertainment and sports, financial services and capital markets, and information and technology services industries, in part reflecting technology-driven job changes.”

Skills employers want

The report also delves into the skills employers value the most, with strong cognitive skills and analytical thinking at the top of the list.

These two skills are expected to remain highly-sought over the next five years, but technology literacy, AI and big data skills will become more important the report said.

“The skills that companies report to be increasing in importance the fastest are not always reflected in corporate upskilling strategies,” the report said.

“Beyond the top-ranked cognitive skills are two skills which companies prioritise much more highly than would appear according to their current importance to their workforce: AI and big data as well as leadership and social influence. 

“Companies rank AI and big data 12 places higher in their skills strategies than in their evaluation of core skills, and report that they will invest an estimated 9 per cent of their reskilling efforts in it – a greater proportion than the more highly-ranked creative thinking, indicating that though AI and big data is part of fewer strategies, it tends to be a more important element when it is included.”

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Kylie Dulhunty

Kylie Dulhunty is the Editor at Elite Agent.