last Two years have been tumultuous for workers around the world. Real wages fell due to the pandemic and the subsequent Ukraine-Russia war. The advent of Generative AI (Artificial Intelligence providing content like text, images etc.) is expected to lead to a new wave of change especially in white collar jobs. The emphasis on adopting green energy has also increased. Due to this, the chances of retrenchment are also increasing in such industries which cause more pollution. Every such change is going to increase the difficulties for the workers. On the other hand, if we talk about the combined effect of all these, then there is a widespread crisis of livelihood.
next five years
The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, released on the occasion of Labor Day, tracks the impact of macro trends and changes in technology on jobs and skills over the next five years. Some aspects of its assessment deserve special attention.
- In the coming five years, 23 percent of jobs worldwide will change.
- 69 million new jobs are likely to be created in 45 economies with 673 million workers.
- 8.3 crore jobs are expected to end.
- That means there will be a total reduction of 1.4 crore jobs.
- 22 percent jobs will change in India. If there is an increase of 12 percent in these, then there will be 10 percent less employment.
Investment in green technology and increasing consumer awareness of issues related to sustainable development will create new opportunities. From renewable energy engineers, solar energy installation and systems engineers to sustainability specialists and environmental protection professionals, there will be a huge increase in demand. Overall, about one crore new jobs can be created.
Maximum employment is going to be created in education (about 30 lakh) and agriculture sector (40 lakh). Behind this there will be some role of demography and some of the new technology to be implemented in these areas. The new economic structure that is being created due to changes in the supply chain and other reasons will also play a big role in providing new jobs. However, it is going to be more beneficial to the economies of Asia and West Asia.
Adoption of new technology will reduce employment in about a quarter of the companies, while employment will increase in more than half of the companies. But on the man-machine front, things are going to take a completely different turn. Due to machines, there will be less situations of snatching physical work, but such work which requires logic, communication and coordination, there are chances of going to the machines.
Generative AI is going to be adopted in 75 percent of the companies surveyed and even this poses no less threat to jobs. Especially jobs like bank cashier, clerk, secretary and accounting can be directly affected by this. Nevertheless, the biggest role behind the loss of employment will be economic slowdown, increase in cost and decreasing purchasing power.
The skills most in demand are creative and analytical thinking, technical literacy, curiosity and AI.
There will be a 46 per cent change in basic skills of workers in India, which is higher than the global average. Companies are setting priorities for improving the skills of workers. Of these, 60 percent are worried about the gap in skills, while 54 percent are concerned about how to attract talented people. In such a situation, how should workers, employers and the government prepare for future employment?
- Local skill development will be most useful in the era of primacy of technology, moving towards green energy and decreasing globalization. Analytical and interpersonal skills and the ability to understand how to work with technology will be important.
- Every student, regardless of his field, should focus on developing these skills.
- The laborers of the sectors which are on the decline, need to put a lot of emphasis on reskilling and transition efforts.
- In the areas which are on the cutting edge, the focus has to be on developing the capability of continuous learning.
- Governments will have to provide resources and roadmap for skill improvement. To make the new technology safe, it is necessary to ensure necessary changes in the rules and regulations and help the workers, and maintaining a balance between them will be a big challenge for the governments.
Employers will also have to invest in reskilling and upskilling at their level. Most employers expect a return on investment within a year. But the best employers go above and beyond to help workers upskill outside the company and make skills a top priority during hiring, rather than educational qualifications or prior work experience.
(The writer is managing director, World Economic Forum.)