The world of work is set to go through major changes in the coming years — with almost a quarter of jobs changing in the next five years, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum.
Some 23% of jobs will be disrupted, WEF said in its ‘Future of Jobs’ report, with some eliminated and others created. Crucially, WEF expects there to be 14 million fewer jobs overall in five years’ time, as an estimated 83 million roles will disappear, while only 69 million will emerge.
“Overall the rate of change is quite high,” Saadia Zahidi, managing director at the WEF, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick and Geoff Cutmore Monday at the WEF’s growth summit in Geneva, Switzerland.
The report’s findings are largely based on a survey of 803 companies that employ a total of 11.3 million workers in 45 different economies around the world.
A huge range of factors will play a role in the disruption, according to WEF, from technological developments like artificial intelligence to climate change.
Concerns about technological changes having a negative impact on jobs have been growing, especially since generative A.I. tools like ChatGPT have entered the mainstream. And technology does appear to be one of the biggest drivers of job loss, the research found.
“The largest losses are expected in administrative roles and in traditional security, factory and commerce roles,” the report said, noting that the decline of administrative roles in particular will be “driven mainly by digitalization and automation.”
However, the surveyed companies do not see technological shifts as a negative overall.
“The impact of most technologies on jobs is expected to be a net positive over the next five years. Big data analytics, climate change and environmental management technologies, and encryption and cybersecurity are expected to be the biggest drivers of job growth,” the report reads.
Some of the sectors that could see boosted job creation linked to technology are education, agriculture and health, Zahidi explained.
“In part that is happening not because these are unsafe, low-paid, low-skilled jobs around the world. These are higher skilled, higher value add jobs enabled by technology in the fields of agriculture, health, education,” she said.
AI is described as a “key driver of potential algorithmic displacement” of roles in the report, and almost 75% of companies surveyed are expected to adopt the technology. Some 50% of the firms expect jobs to be created as a result, while 25% expect job declines.
Technology is also not the only factor at play when it comes to job disruption, according to WEF. In fact, it comes sixth on the list of factors leading to net job creation or elimination.
“It’s also economic growth, which is pretty tepid at the moment, it’s also sustainability and the rise of the green economy, it’s also supply chain changes and what’s happening sort of to this era of ‘deglobalization’,” Zahidi said.
Companies becoming greener and adopting higher environmental, social and governance standards are the two biggest drivers of job creation, surveyed companies said, whilst slowing economic growth is expected to be main contributor to job losses.
Other factors that are also likely to lead to job declines in the coming years include the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, supply shortages and the global cost of living crisis.
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