The World Economic Forum: Future of Jobs Report 2020

Published by FirstAlign

World Economic Forum

Did you keep or lose your job in this pandemic, or are you one of those blessed ones who found a new one?  Where do you stand? Unfortunately, for millions of people in the world, it has been a sad story. The recession-induced by this pandemic has displaced the livelihoods of many. We are in uncertain times, but we need to prepare for the future. 

The Future of Jobs Report 2020 is an insight into future job opportunities and the skills needed for these jobs.  The report discusses the current state of the labor market in the pandemic economy, the future of the labor market for the next five years, and the pathway to reviving it. 

Report findings

According to The Future of Jobs Report 2020, the labor market has been dramatically affected by this pandemic. The labor market, which is usually affected by political, economic, social, and technological reasons, has only been aggregated to distress by the COVID-19. The present conditions have also onset the ‘jobs of tomorrow.’  Here are the key findings of the report

Technology Adoption

Even in these questioning times, the adoption of technology is still a priority for businesses.  Technologies such as cloud computing, big data, and e-commerce are high priorities. There is also a significant interest in encryption, non-humanoid robot, and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The report says that by 2025, the time spent on tasks and machines will be the same. In other words, automation will be essential for tasks, jobs, and skills. Hence companies have accelerated the adoption of technology. 

Future Jobs

The Future of Jobs Report estimates that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced. Work will be divided between humans and machines.  Ninety-seven million new roles will emerge from the latest labor division adaption between humans, machines, and algorithms. 

The adoption of technology and automation will see a surge in demand for workers in roles at the forefront of data, AI, and green economy jobs.  There will also be new roles in engineering, cloud computing, and product development. This set of emerging professions can further lead to modern marketing, sales, and content production roles. 

The future of work is digitized and working remotely. This pandemic has already set it in motion. Today, many of us are already working from home, and companies are looking to continue it. 

Skill and Training

The top skills required for future jobs are critical thinking, analysis, problem-solving, and self-management skills such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility.  There is a skill gap for future jobs, and companies expect that at least 40% of their workforce will require reskilling of six months or less.  Also, the window for opportunity to reskill and upskill is shorter in the newly constrained labor market.

The future of learning and training is online. More and more individuals are seeking opportunities for learning online. Those in employment are interested in personal development growth while those unemployed are keen on picking up digital skills such as data analysis, computer science, and Information Technology. 

Preparing for tomorrow

Even though the labor market’s future looks challenging, the report findings suggest that many employers recognize human capital investment value. To tackle the challenges, both public and private sectors need to work together jointly. 

Business leaders need to shift talent from areas of decline to regions of new job creation. They need to create effective systems to reskill and adequately train their workforce. Governments need to develop policies that ensure the workers can prosper based on merit rather than social status, such as race or gender. 


The growing unemployment, which is spearheaded by the pandemics, has started many changes in the way we work.  Businesses are questioning existing job roles and the need for employees in many areas. The shift for industries is towards technology adoption, automation, and digitization.  This shift will mostly impact the jobs of the future.

There is a demand for jobs in roles at the forefront of data, AI, and the green economy. We can also see new roles emerging in engineering, cloud computing, and product development. As these technologies are set to create jobs for the next five years, the need to reskill the workforce is essential. 

The pathway to harnessing human potential is a joint effort by both the public and private sectors. Providing training and shifting the workforce from declining jobs to new areas is the key to reviving the labor market.

Download a copy of the report below.

After years of growing income inequality, concerns about technology-driven displacement of jobs, and rising societal discord globally, the combined health and economic shocks of 2020 have put economies into freefall, disrupted labour markets and fully revealed the inadequacies of our social contracts. We find ourselves at a defining moment: the decisions and choices we make today will determine the course of entire generations’ lives and livelihoods.

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The reports key findings include

  • The pace of technology adoption is expected to remain unabated and may accelerate in some areas.
    The adoption of cloud computing, big data and e-commerce remain high priorities for business leaders, following a trend established in previous years. However, there has also been a significant rise in interest for encryption, non-humanoid robots and artificial intelligence.
  • Automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, is creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers.
    In addition to the current disruption from the pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic contraction, technological adoption by companies will transform tasks, jobs and skills by 2025. Forty-three percent of businesses surveyed indicate that they are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration, 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work, and 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration. By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal. A significant share of companies also expect to make changes to locations, their value chains, and the size of their workforce due to factors beyond technology in the next five years.
  • Although the number of jobs destroyed will be surpassed by the number of ‘jobs of tomorrow’ created, in contrast to previous years, job creation is slowing while job destruction accelerates.
    Employers expect that by 2025, increasingly redundant roles will decline from being 15.4% of the workforce to 9% (6.4% decline), and that emerging professions will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth) of the total employee base of company respondents. 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.
  • Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years.
    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. On average, companies estimate that around 40% of workers will require reskilling of six months or less and 94% of business leaders report that they expect employees to pick up new skills on the job, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018.
  • The future of work has already arrived for a large majority of the online white-collar workforce. 
    Eighty-four percent of employers are set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote work—with the potential to move 44% of their workforce to operate remotely. To address concerns about productivity and well-being, about one-third of all employers expect to also take steps to create a sense of community, connection and belonging among employees through digital tools, and to tackle the well-being challenges posed by the shift to remote work.
  • In the absence of proactive efforts, inequality is likely to be exacerbated by the dual impact of technology and the pandemic recession.
    Jobs held by lower wage workers, women and younger workers were more deeply impacted in the first phase of the economic contraction. Comparing the impact of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 on individuals with lower education levels to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the impact today is far more significant and more likely to deepen existing inequalities.
  • Online learning and training is on the rise but looks different for those in employment and those who are unemployed.
    There has been a four-fold increase in the numbers of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative, a five-fold increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers and a nine-fold enrolment increase for learners accessing online learning through government programmes. Those in employment are placing larger emphasis on personal development courses, which have seen 88% growth among that population. Those who are unemployed have placed greater emphasis on learning digital skills such as data analysis, computer science and information technology.
  • The window of opportunity to reskill and upskill workers has become shorter in the newly constrained labour market.
    This applies to workers who are likely to stay in their roles as well as those who risk losing their roles due to rising recession-related unemployment and can no longer expect to retrain at work. For those workers set to remain in their roles, the share of core skills that will change in the next five years is 40%, and 50% of all employees will need reskilling (up 4%).
  • Despite the current economic downturn, the large majority of employers recognize the value of human capital investment.
    An average of 66% of employers surveyed expect to get a return on investment in upskilling and reskilling within one year. However, this time horizon risks being too long for many employers in the context of the current economic shock, and nearly 17% remain uncertain on having any return on their investment. On average, employers expect to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025. However, employee engagement into those courses is lagging, with only 42% of employees taking up employer-supported reskilling and upskilling opportunities.
  • Companies need to invest in better metrics of human and social capital through adoption of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and matched with renewed measures of human capital accounting.
    A significant number of business leaders understand that reskilling employees, particularly in industry coalitions and in public-private collaborations, is both cost-effective and has significant mid- to long-term dividends—not only for their enterprise but also for the benefit of society more broadly. Companies hope to internally redeploy nearly 50% of workers displaced by technological automation and augmentation, as opposed to making wider use of layoffs and automation-based labour savings as a core workforce strategy.
  • The public sector needs to provide stronger support for reskilling and upskilling for at-risk or displaced workers.
    Currently, only 21% of businesses report being able to make use of public funds to support their employees through reskilling and upskilling. The public sector will need to create incentives for investments in the markets and jobs of tomorrow; provide stronger safety nets for displaced workers in the midst of job transitions; and to decisively tackle long-delayed improvements to education and training systems. Additionally, it will be important for governments to consider the longer-term labour market implications of maintaining, withdrawing or partly continuing the strong COVID-19 crisis support they are providing to support wages and maintain jobs in most advanced economies.
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