Roles such as robotics engineers and business intelligence analysts are projected to be amongst the fastest-growing, while roles such as legislators and officials are going into decline at a fast pace.
Driven by technological breakthroughs, current labour-market transformations are being compounded by economic and geopolitical disruptions and growing social and environmental pressures.
As further looked into by the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Future of Jobs Report, economic, health, and geopolitical trends have created divergent outcomes for labour markets globally in 2023. Particularly, while tight labour markets are prevalent in high-income countries, low- and lower-middle-income countries continue to see higher unemployment than before the pandemic. Labour-market outcomes are also diverging on an individual level, as workers with only basic education and women face lower employment levels. At the same time, real wages are declining as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and changing worker expectations and concerns about the quality of work.
Since its launch in 2016, the WEF's bi-annual report has tracked the labour-market impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, identifying the potential scale of occupational disruption and growth alongside strategies for empowering job transitions from declining to emerging roles. The report's fourth edition expands its focus to encompass a wider range of trends, such as the green and energy transitions, macroeconomic factors, as well as geoeconomic and supply-chain shifts, and provides strategies for enabling smoother job transitions from declining to emerging occupations.
This year’s report surveyed 803 companies from all world regions across 27 industry clusters, with more than 11.3mn workers collectively.
Looking at the job outlook ahead, macrotrends and technology are expected to drive a mixed outlook for job creation and destruction in the next five years, across job categories and industries.
The report utilises the concept of labour-market churn to help quantify the expected change in labour markets. This would refer to the pace of reallocation of workers and jobs. In particular, the survey results help quantify structural labour-market churn, which results from changes to the employment structure of companies when new roles are created or existing roles are eliminated — namely, 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. This excludes job changes where a new employee replaces an existing one in the same role. Structural churn also does not include the natural churn of workers moving between jobs for personal reasons.
Accordingly, the job outlook analysis estimates churn using anticipated structural changes reported by surveyed companies in the composition of their workforces between 2023 and 2027.
Through this method, 83mn jobs are projected to be lost and 69mn are projected to be created in the next five years, constituting a structural labour-market churn of 152mn jobs (or 23% of the 673mn employees in the data set being studied). This translates to a reduction in employment of 14mn jobs, equivalent to 2%.
By sector, this report’s churn analysis suggests a higher-than-average churn from 2023 to 2027 in the supply chain and transportation and the media, entertainment and sports industries, where respondents estimate structural five-year churn to be 29% and 32% respectively. This still registers a lower-than-average churn in accommodation, food and leisure; manufacturing and retail, and wholesale of consumer goods.
Diving even deeper by job roles, AI and machine learning specialists top the list of fast-growing jobs, followed by sustainability specialists and business intelligence analysts.
While the majority of the fastest-growing roles on the list are generally technology-related roles, the fastest-declining roles, on the other hand, are clerical or secretarial roles: with bank tellers and related clerks, postal service clerks, and cashiers and ticket clerks expected to decline fastest.
*Right-click on the images below to see the full list of new and lost jobs in a new tab.
Blue indicates jobs created, and purple indicates jobs displaced.
The study also analysed the skills currently needed for work, and whether businesses expect them to increase or decrease in importance in the next five years.
Similar to 2020, analytical thinking is considered to be the top core skill, constituting on average 9% of the core skills reported by companies. Another cognitive skill, creative thinking, ranks second ahead of three self-efficacy skills – resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; and curiosity and lifelong learning.
In response to skills being disrupted, businesses are designing and scaling up their training programmes. Given that businesses see skills gaps in the local labour market as the foremost barrier towards achieving industry transformation and investing in learning and training on the job as the most promising workforce strategy for achieving their business goals, formulating effective reskilling and upskilling strategies for the next five years is essential for maximising business performance.
In line with the core skills findings, the highest priority for skills training from 2023 to 2027 is analytical thinking, which is set to account for an average of 10% of training initiatives.
Following that, the second priority for workforce development is to promote creative thinking, which will be the subject of 8% of upskilling initiatives.
Interestingly, taking into account the jobs outlook finding, companies ranked 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% of their reskilling efforts in it. This is a greater fraction than the more highly-ranked creative thinking, suggesting that though it appears in fewer strategies, it tends to be a more important element when it appears.
In Singapore, the increased adoption of new and frontier technologies was the top trend that is expected to lead to the highest number of jobs created. Specifically, big-data analytics was the technology most likely to drive this industry transformation and job creation, followed by digital platforms & apps, and e-commerce & digital trade.
On the other hand, slower global economic growth is expected to lead to the highest number of jobs displaced in the local landscape.
The top trends above were echoed in neighbouring Malaysia: with the increased adoption of new and frontier technologies most likely to impact job creation, while big-data analytics and Internet of Things & connected devices were also likely to play a part.
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Lead image / Shutterstock
All other images / Future of Jobs Report
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