One of the great challenges of the business world is predicting which jobs will grow and which will disappear. Several companies and institutions are working to solve this great mystery, including the World Economic Forum (WEF), an international organisation that “involves society’s leaders of politics, business, culture and other spheres in shaping global, regional and industrial agendas.”
At the end of 2018, this organisation published the Future of Jobs Report, which analysed the trends predicted for the 2018–2022 period in 20 economies and 12 different industrial sectors. “The increased demand for new roles will compensate for the decreased demand for others,” noted Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, in the preface to the forecast document. The German economist is optimistic about the predictions because, although five million jobs will disappear, another 133 million new ones will emerge.
The technological revolution will change business models in all industries. A phenomenon that the Davos World Forum has already dubbed the Fourth Industrial Revolution. High-speed mobile internet, artificial intelligence, big data analysis, cloud-storage of information, augmented and virtual reality, and others factors will spearhead the adoption of new technologies by businesses. They will also change the dynamics of work, the competences required of workers and the gender gap in industry.
The essential skills and competences
- Analytical thinking and innovation
- Active learning and strategies for learning
- Creativity, originality and initiative
- Technological design and programming
- Critical thinking and analysis
- Complex problem solving
- Leadership and social influence
- Emotional intelligence
- Reasoning, problem solving and ideation
- Analysis and evaluation of systems
It is also predicted that the division of labour will continue to move away from humans towards machines and algorithms. At present, around 71% of the total working hours in industries are fulfilled by people, compared to 29% covered by technological systems. By 2022, it is predicted that “this average will have changed to 58% of working hours being carried out by humans, and 42% by machines and algorithms.”
However, “to prevent a scenario of undesirable decline – technological change accompanied by scarcity of talent, mass unemployment and growing inequality,” added Klaus Schwab, “it is vital that companies play an active role in supporting their existing workforces through retraining and skills development.” “Growth is also expected in roles based on distinctively ‘human’ characteristics, such as customer service workers or sales and marketing professionals.”
10 jobs that will flourish in the future, according to the WEF
- Data analysts and scientists
- Artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists
- General and operational managers
- Software and application developers and analysts
- Sales and marketing professionals
- Big data specialists
- Digital transformation specialists
- New technologies specialists
- Organisational development specialists
- Information and communications technology (ICT) services
At a municipal level, Barcelona Activa, the City Council’s Local Development Agency which has been working to promote the economic development of the city and its surroundings for 30 years, has also released a publication that analyses the significant changes occurring in the working world and how to address them. The “White Paper on the Future of Jobs” [SPANISH] identifies the sectors related to technology, health and the green economy as being key. In addition, the prominence of disciplines such as psychology and the humanities will increase over the coming years.
According to the report, more than two changes of profession will become necessary in order to stay active in the labour market. The importance of expanding the definition of “work” is also highlighted: “a reductionist view of work, restricted to occupation, renders invisible the work of people, mostly women, without which society would not be able to function.” As a result, the analysis calls for the incorporation of time and its usage in studies on employment.
Along the same lines as the World Economic Forum, the Barcelona Activa document, drawn up with collaboration from Alternativas Económicas SCCL and contributions from 28 specialist academics from the field of employment, sets out ten career profiles that are sure to prevail in the future.
10 jobs that will excel, according to Barcelona Activa
- Digital banking and cryptocurrency specialist
- Data storage specialist
- Food engineering specialist
- 3D food printing specialist
- Leaders of new business colonies
- Chief data officer or data manager
- Privacy specialist
- Those able to design human organs
- Those able to organise crowdfunding campaigns
- Avatar designers or those responsible for relations with them
The study cites Thomas Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute, a non-profit organisation that works to “understand the future of humanity and the myriad technologies that are changing it.” This futurist outlined the core skills required to fill roles like those already mentioned. These include the capability to transform and expand in an ever-changing and digitised world, project leadership and decision making, seizing opportunities, and understanding how to recognise the tipping points in particular processes, among others.