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The World Economic Forum revealed in its 2018 Future of Jobs report that technology adoption is accelerating very quickly and by 2022, 85% of organisations would have implemented four technological advances – big data analytics, high-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology globally.

What are some upcoming trends in the future of jobs?

While the report does not foresee the integration of AI into humanoid robots prior to 2022, a broader range of robotics technologies such as stationary robots, non-humanoid land robots and fully automated aerial drones will likely consider machine learning algorithms and AI as part of their business models. This will be particularly relevant to the Oil & Gas industry as stationary, aerial and underwater robots would make the industry more efficient.

In terms of how technology will impact companies, nearly 50% of companies expect that automation will reduce their full-time workforce by 2022. However, about 38% of companies surveyed are looking to extend their workforce and only 25% expect that automation will create new positions in the business.

Following the Oil & Gas industry that has moved to a flexible workforce consisting mainly of contractors assigned to projects, the report further stated that businesses in other industries will be expanding their use of contractors for specialised or niche tasks. Remote staffing such as working from home arrangements will be highly encouraged as this will likely decentralise operations and allow businesses to grow beyond the physical capacity of an office, although this is highly dependent on the nature of the role.

How will the workload be shared between humans and machines?

Companies expect a paradigm shift between humans and machines within the workplace between now and 2022. This year, humans performed 71% of total task hours across 12 industries compared to machines that completed 29%. Over the next few years, it is expected that the average would lean more towards machines with human task hours falling to 58% and machines increasing to 42%. The report further stipulated that an additional 16% of organisations would be delegating their information and data procession, information search and transmissions tasks to machines. This even includes soft human skills such as communication, advisory, reasoning and decision-making.

Is the outlook on the future jobs negative?

In spite of machines becoming more omnipresent in the workplace, research has shown that by 2022 there would be an increase in emerging professions – rising from 16% to 27%. Emerging in-demand roles include data analysts, scientists, software and applications developers, ecommerce as well as social media specialists. According to the report, there will also be an increase in roles that can distinctively leverage human skills. These include:

  •         Customer Service Workers;
  •         Sales and Marketing Professionals;
  •         Training and Development, People and Culture;
  •         Organisational Development Specialists; and
  •         Innovation Managers.

In correlation with the emergence of new technologies, the report findings found extensive evidence that the demand for the following specialist tech roles has surged, namely:

  •         AI and Machine Learning Specialists;
  •         Big Data Specialists;
  •         Process Automation Experts;
  •         Information Security Analysts;
  •          User Experience and Human-Machine Interaction Designers;
  •          Robotics Engineers; and
  •         Blockchain Specialists.

It is expected that about 50% of today’s core jobs would remain stable in the period up to 2022. A decline of 0.98 million jobs and a gain of 1.74 million jobs are also anticipated – meaning that the future of jobs is still looking promising.

How stable are the current skillsets of the workforce?

An in-depth analysis of the job market has found that the skillset required to perform most jobs will have shifted significantly by 2022. This is mainly due to trends in technology that are disrupting business models and pushing businesses to transform, becoming more innovative and embedding technology across all levels of the business in order to remain relevant to the market. All enterprises at one point will have to embrace digital transformation for their business to remain competitive. 

According to the report, the proportion of core skills required to perform a job will remain the same at 58%. Skills that are likely to stay in demand by 2022 include analytical thinking, innovation, active learning and learning strategies. When considering the number of employees who would need significant reskilling or upskilling, findings suggests that at least 54% of employees would fall into this category. Employers surveyed stated that people who are proficient in various forms of technology such as technology design and programming, will play an important role in the organisation. Employees with strong soft skills such as creativity, leadership, persuasion, negotiation and complex problem-solving will also either maintain or increase in value.

What strategies can be used to address skills gaps?

 Employers surveyed further highlight three future strategies to manage the skills gaps widened by the adoption of new technologies:

  • Hire new permanent employees who possess technical skills that are relevant to new technologies;
  • Completely automate work tasks; and
  • Reskill or upskill existing employees.

However nearly 25% of companies are unsure about retraining their existing employees, whilst the rest expect their workforce to be able to adapt and learn new skills as their jobs evolve with technology. Over 50% of employers stated that they will be prioritising the re-skilling or upskilling of employees in important roles within the company as they want to be able to strengthen their company’s strategic capacity. However, only 33% reported that they will prioritise training employees whose jobs are the most at risk of technological disruption. This means that people who are the most in need of being reskilled or upskilled may end up the least likely of being trained by their employer. Up to two thirds of employers surveyed also suggest that they will hire external contractors, freelancers and temporary staff to bridge any skills gaps.

What can organisations do now?

Whilst new technologies can drive business growth and job creation – they can also make people redundant in areas where the efficiency and reliability of machines have made their roles obsolete. Findings in this report call for a strategy where businesses benefit from both the automation of repetitive tasks whilst leveraging on their human capital. An example would be delegating routinised tasks to machines and as such, enabling employees to use their distinctive emotional intelligence to solve other tasks. Employees on a whole, would also need to have an agile mindset and be open to learning and training as their role evolves.

At SThree, we understand how advances in technology can change the types of job opportunities that organisations offer. If you are a candidate looking to understand how this landscape is evolving, or if you are an organisation looking for top talent within the tech industry, please contact us on 02 9285 1000 for a confidential discussion.