MALTA 4 ICT business and Jobs, Mobility crucial to solving technology-led jobs crisis
Millions of jobs stand to be lost thanks to advances in technology such as robotics, artificial intelligence and 3D printing, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF), but mobility is one of the key solutions to the growing problem.
The WEF’s Future of Jobs report, released alongside the organisation’s annual meeting in Davos, says that more than seven million jobs are at risk from redundancy, automation or disintermediation thanks to technological change.
The report, which covers 15 of the world’s largest economies including Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, predicts that the losses will occur by 2020.
White collar office and administrative roles will be worst hit. The losses will be offset somewhat by the creation of 2.1 million new jobs in fields such at computing, architecture and engineering.
“These predictions are likely to be relatively conservative and leave no room for complacency,” the WEF said in its announcement.
Women will fare worse than men, the WEF said. While the burden of job losses from the so-called ‘fourth industrial revolution’ will hit men and women roughly equally (52 per cent and 48 per cent respectively), the WEF adds that, “the fact that women make up a smaller share of the workforce means that today’s economic gender gap may widen even further than the current 40per cent.”
Women will lose five jobs for every job gained, compared to men losing three jobs for every job gained.
This can be partly explained by the fact that some of the roles at risk from automation and disintermediation, such as office and admin positions, are disproportianately performed by women.
Women are also under-represented in the job growth areas, however, with the lack of women in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields an ongoing issue.
There was some cause for optimism, though. The WEF said that “According to our survey, while traditionally employers have struggled to retain women colleagues beyond the junior level, respondents expect to see an increase of 7-9 percentage points in the share of women in mid-level positions by 2020 and an 8-13 percentage point rise in the number of senior positions being held by women as retention becomes ever more important in the face of key global talent shortages.”
The three sectors that will see the strongest increases in numbers of female workers between now and 2020 are energy (22 per cent – 30 per cent); basic industries and infrastructure (20 per cent – 27 per cent) and healthcare (41 per cent – 48 per cent).
Healthcare, however, also falls into the category of worst-hit sectors in for jobs thanks to technological disruption. The healthcare industry is likely to see the greatest negative impact in terms of jobs over the next five years, followed jointly by energy and financial services.
Unsurprisingly, the sector expected to create the most new jobs over the next five years is information and communications technology, followed by professional services and media.
“Without urgent and targeted action today to manage the near-term transition and build a workforce with futureproof skills, governments will have to cope with ever-growing unemployment and inequality, and businesses with a shrinking consumer base,” said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Supporting mobility was listed as one of the most popular practices for dealing with the huge changes. Employers also said that re-skilling workforces, job rotation, attracting female and foreign talent and offering apprenticeships were key strategies. Hiring more short-term or virtual workers are much less popular responses.
Furthermore, companies that report satisfaction in their future workforce strategy are twice as likely to be targeting female talent and significantly less likely to be planning to hire more short-term workers.
The biggest driver of change across all industries is the changing nature of work itself, specifically in terms of ‘anytime, anywhere’ work leading to companies breaking up tasks in new ways and fragmenting jobs, as well the spread of internet-based service models. The so-called ‘gig economy’ is the most visible manifestation of this change.
There are causes for optimism, however, as fields such as big data, mobile internet, robotics and the ‘Internet of Things’ create new employment opportunities. The biggest expected drivers of employment creation, however, are socio-economic and demographic. Specifically, survey respondants said that young demographics and rising middle classes in emerging markets as well as the growing economic power and aspirations of women in developing countries present opportunities for job creation.