Does this mean shrinkage or growth of occupations?
The studies forecast that only one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink. This figure is much lower than recent studies of automation have suggested.
Occupations related to agriculture, trades and construction, which in other studies have been forecast to decline, exhibit more interesting and heterogeneous patterns with our research, suggesting that there may be pockets of opportunity throughout the skills ladder.
They forecast that only one in ten workers is in an occupation that is likely to grow.
These jobs are in sectors such as education and healthcare, where the overriding effect of technology is likely to be an improvement in outcomes, not a reduction in workforce. Therefore, as trends such as demographic change raise demand for these services, the prospect for employment is also likely to rise.
They forecast that seven in ten workers are in jobs where there is greater uncertainty about the future. However, contrasting the negative outlook of other research, our finding indicates that we can do a great deal to help people prepare for the future.
Our findings rank knowledge areas, skills, and abilities that will be in greater demand in the future. These findings, if implemented by educators and employers, can help individuals better prepare for the workforce of the future.
Although there is already a broad understanding that ‘21st century skills’ will be in demand, this research leads to a far more nuanced understanding of which skills will be in greatest demand.
In the US, there is a particularly strong emphasis on interpersonal skills across the generational workforce. These skills include teaching, social perceptiveness, service orientation, and persuasion.
In the UK, skills related to systems-oriented thinking (i.e., the ability to recognise, understand, and action complex sets of information), such as judgment, decision-making, systems analysis, and systems evaluation also feature prominently.
Research definitively shows that both knowledge and skills will be required for the future economy.
In US results, knowledge and skills are fairly equally represented in the top half of all features we ranked, according to predicted future demand.
In the UK results, the ranking leans more towards skills than knowledge, but not by a wide margin.
Occupations and their skill requirements are not set in stone. Occupations can be re-designed to pair uniquely human skills with the productivity gains from technology to boost demand for jobs.
For example, we know that eventually robots will be able to build bridges and diagnose diseases. But big data in business only goes so far – humans will retain the unique ability to engineer a bridge and care for a sick child. How we balance those skills with technology productivity will chart the course of our workforce.
The future of work is brighter than you might think, and it's never too soon to start thinking about recruiting for that future.
In Australia there has been a steady and ongoing shift in the labour market that is occurring at the same time as the economy adjusts and diversifies following the mining-boom between 2003 and 2013.
The economy is being reshaped by significant technological, economic, demographic and social shifts, shifts that are ‘disrupting’ business models and substantially changing the way we work and live. Think of the emergence of the ‘gig’ economy (working independently on a task-by-task basis for various employers) and portfolio workers. Combined, these fundamental transformations are known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Just as it has in previous revolutions, the Fourth Industrial Revolution will require new thinking by governments, training providers, employers and students.