Robots will destroy 85 million jobs as pandemic shifts labour demand

Cornelia Mascio
Ottobre 21, 2020

"In essence, the rate of job destruction has gone up and the rate of job creation has gone down", said WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi.

"Based on these figures, we 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", it added.

In an interesting finding, it is revealed that by 2025, employers will divide work between humans and machines equally.

But it warned workers now faced a double threat from "accelerating automation and the fallout from the Covid-19 recession". However, jobs related to managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning, communicating, and interacting will still be employing humans due to comparative advantage.

Nearly half of those people who are set to retain their jobs in the next five years will need reskilling, and this process will require a coordinated effort of government and businesses, especially in light of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected low-skilled workers, the findings show. The technology revolution at the same time will generate 97 million new jobs in areas like artificial intelligence, content creation, cloud computing and green economy.

Job roles such as process automation specialists, information security analysts, and Internet of Things specialists are also growing in demand.

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.

Data from Coursera suggests that individuals could start gaining the top 10 skills for each emerging profession in people and culture, content writing, sales and marketing in one to two months.

Almost 43 per cent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41 per cent plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work, and 34 per cent plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration.

Moreover, for workers who remain in their current jobs in the next five years, nearly 50% will need to be reskilled.

Despite the current economic downturn, most employers recognise the value of reskilling their workforce.

Another strong trend is remote working with 84% of employers set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote working.

Despite the high costs of retraining, 66% of employers surveyed by WEF think these efforts will pay off in terms of return on investment within just one year.

Currently, only 21% of businesses worldwide are able to make use of public funds for reskilling and upskilling programmes.

"The pandemic has accelerated numerous trends around the future of work, dramatically shrinking the window of opportunity to reskill and transition workers into future-fit jobs". The public sector will need a three-tiered approach to help workers.

The report calls on governments to do more to help workers by strengthening social safety nets, boosting educational offerings and providing incentives to invest in the jobs of tomorrow.

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