The Future of Jobs: What Will Happen in 20 Years?
We are living in an era of constant change. Technology has become embedded in our day-to-day lives for the past 20 years and the trend will only continue to increase.
The current situation exposes a system that is suffering a global pandemic that has already claimed millions of jobs across the world. But in this scenario, technology will be essential as the main driver for change and progress in the next 20 years. And this can bring a lot of doubts about how the future of jobs will be structured.
- Is the claim that there will be fewer jobs available based on evidence?
- Is tech and AI going to replace most of the jobs we have today?
In this article, we will be exploring the impact that technology will have on jobs and the workforce within the next 20 years.
Living Amongst Robots
The next two decades promise a full-scale revolution in our working lives, with automation becoming the center of productivity. But let’s take a look at the present and how technology already is a huge part of our lives.
The concept that our jobs will be replaced by robots and we will be out of work is not true. We already live in an age of robotics in the workplace, and, before the pandemic, we had reached some of the lowest global unemployment rates in history with 5.2% in 2018. (Worldwide)
In other words, high tech and high employment rates don’t need to be mutually exclusive.
This coexistence gives us reason to believe that technology will create more jobs than it will destroy. But we have to be very careful when analyzing this situation as a projection because there is one problem that is arising and that we need to address as soon as possible.
The fact is that jobs will switch to skill-based. In turn, this will affect the most vulnerable populations who have less access to education.
According to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, in the next 10 years, we will have 1.2 billion employees worldwide affected by the adaptation of automation technologies and AI. This is equal to 50% of the world economy and will disrupt US$14.6 trillion in wages.
This transformation will disproportionately affect vulnerable populations and low-skilled workers. In fact, this will not destroy jobs, but rather shift the focus of what is needed at the workplace. So the main focus will change to how we can generate those skills across most of our population and how to avoid having a gap of skilled workers who are needed to perform those skills.
It is important to note that while automation will change approximately 50% of jobs, it is not expected to eliminate more than 5%.
Rather than being replaced by computers, most workers will instead work alongside rapidly evolving machines. Workers will need to learn new skills to pursue these jobs or adapt to changes within their current roles.
Yet despite concerns about automation, the main problem is that business leaders are not adequately preparing their employees with those necessary skills.
Changing the Workforce
Once again, according to the world economic forum, today 44% of Europeans aged 16-74 lack basic digital abilities. In Europe, the impending skills gap will lead to 1.67 million unfilled vacancies for ICT professionals by 2025.
These future jobs demonstrate that the automation revolution does not necessarily mean the loss of work. Rather, it presents an opportunity and a call-to-action for up-skilling our current workforce.
We are heading towards increased inequality if we do not address this problem.
For example, women comprise 65% of the workforce in Europe, but only 17% of the European ICT workforce. Women represent one of the largest pools of untapped labor: globally, 655 million fewer women are economically active than men.
If we do not focus on up-skilling and teaching our workers how to adapt to the demands of the future, we will have an enormous inequality gap moving forward.
Skills for the Future
Youth will also be affected by these changes unless we redefine how we are educating them. Almost 75 million youth are officially unemployed.
Currently, young people comprise 17% of the world’s population, but 40% of the world’s unemployed. Digital literacy for the young is a starting point, but if it does not focus on developing skills, it will be superficial and won’t help develop the future workforce.
In a McKinsey survey of young people and employers in nine countries, 40% of employers said a lack of skills was the main reason for entry-level job vacancies. Sixty percent said that new graduates were not adequately prepared for the world of work.
Even amongst people who are actually working, according to a LinkedIn survey, 37% claim that their skills are being underutilized and that they do not possess the knowledge for new job requirements.
So how do we fix this?
Automation will only increase, so we will need to re-train our workers and change our education system to adapt to modern skillsets across the globe. Retraining our workers who are in the middle of their career will be a great step towards change. Businesses will be central in developing opportunities for workers to upgrade their skills.
A Period of Change & Adaptation
Both workers and employers have to understand that there will not be a lack of jobs, but rather a shift and transformation.
Traditional jobs may be automated and low-skilled workers may have to adapt, but there will always be new jobs.
Every technological revolution has brought a period of change and adaptation. Workers had to learn new skills, while companies had to restructure their workforce. But one thing we can be sure of is that we need to see change as a positive and necessary adaptation.
Companies will find it in their own self-interest to train and prepare workers. Individuals will need to be ready as well to rethink the notions of where they work, how they work, and what talents and capabilities are the ones that will be necessary for success.
Change is inevitable and necessary. As a whole, we need to understand that – and the sooner we create a support system, the better we will adapt to the future!