Future jobs, skills and sense of community

Future jobs, skills and sense of community

Future jobs, skills and sense of community

In October 2020 The World Economic Forum released its third edition of The Future of Jobs Report. The report provides the timely insights needed to orient labour markets and workers towards opportunity today and in the future of work. For the first time, it also maps the jobs and skills of the future, a much needed information considering the millions of individuals globally who have lost their livelihoods and millions more who are at risk from the global recession, structural change to the economy and further automation. 

Be they employed or unemployed, people are facing fears of no longer coping with the fast changing working environment in terms of required skills and expertise. How likely are they to adjust, adapt and reskill?

Whoever is working in General Management or HR (or People Management or People Happiness or whatever fancy names you chose to describe the role of managing your most important asset) could take a look on the 163 page document (full report plus country and industry profiles) free to download here https://www.weforum.org/reports/the-future-of-jobs-report-2020. It comprises multiple source data from The Future of Jobs Survey to Linkedin and Coursera, from private to public sectors, per countries and regions (unfortunately Romania is not listed separately).

While it remains difficult to establish the long-term consequences of the pandemic on the demand for products and services in severely affected industries, supporting workers during this transition will protect one of the key assets of any company and country— its human capital.

This report identifies one result of the pandemic as an increasing urgency to address the disruption underway both by supporting and retraining displaced workers and by monitoring the emergence of new opportunities in the labour market.

The main conclusions are:

1. Skills gaps continue to be high as indemand skills across jobs change in the next five years. 

The top skills and skill groups which employers see as rising in the next five years 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, an increase from 65% in 2018. 

How I see this learning: One cost effective way for an average company could be to train new skills such as critical thinking, problem solving or active learning to top agile employees from all management levels and have them cascade the info to their equivalent circles (top management to top management, middle management to middle management, etc). It is the agile workers with specific understanding related to their group of interests who could do the best job versus the regular training department.

2. The future of work has already arrived for a large majority of the online white-collar workforce. 84% 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. 

How I see this learning: When you think of ideas for building the sense of community, connection and belonging, do not limit yourselves only to “update weekly virtual calls” to check on the weelbeing of employees, “Friday virtual drinks” and “Virtual teambuilding”. While these might be useful tools on a short time frame and for specific work groups, you might as well get a sense of fatigue and annoyment for others and possibly for everybody in the long run. Think how to save their time - maybe there are ways you could help them with their cooking (free delivered meals to employees twice per month), online schooling (free after school classes for their kids), house chores (vouchers for cleaning companies), etc.

For example, Microsoft has announced new features for its Teams communication platform that aim to improve users’ work/life balance in the WFH world. Microsoft will be introducing a 'virtual commute' feature to create mental bookends for the remote workday. It will also partner with meditation app Headspace and add a new emotional check-in feature.

In 2021, increasingly mindful people will look for products and services that seamlessly boost their mental wellbeing for real. How can you recalibrate the impact your products and services have on consumers’ and employees’ wellbeing?

3. Online learning and training is on the rise but looks different for those in employment  and those who are unemployed. There has been a 4 times increase in the numbers of individuals seeking out opportunities for learning online through their own initiative, a 5 times increase in employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers and a 9 times 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. Source: Coursera.

How I see this learning: It is relatively easy for each company to create its own version of Airbnb experiences for their employees.

4. 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. 

5. Technologies likely to be adopted by 2025 (by share of companies surveyed): 

  • Cloud computing
  • Big data analytics
  • Internet of things and connected devices
  • Encryption and cybersecurity
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Text, image & voice processing
  • E-commerce and digital trade 
  • Robots, non-humanoid (e.g industrial automation, drones)
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Distributed ledger technology (e.g. blockchain)
  • 3D and 4D printing and modelling
  • Power storage and generation
  • New materials (e.g. nanotubes, graphene)
  • Biotechnology
  • Robots, humanoid
  • Quantum computing

6. Top 20 job roles in increasing and decreasing demand across industries


  • Data Analysts and Scientists
  • AI and Machine Learning Specialists
  • Big Data Specialists
  • Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists
  • Process Automation Specialists
  • Business Development Professionals
  • Digital Transformation Specialists
  • Information Security Analysts
  • Software and Applications Developers
  • Internet of Things Specialists


  • Data Entry Clerks
  • Administrative and Executive Secretaries
  • Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Clerks
  • Accountants and Auditors
  • Assembly and Factory Workers
  • Business Services and Administration Managers
  • Client Information and Customer Service Workers
  • General and Operations Managers
  • Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
  • Material-Recording and Stock-Keeping Clerks

Source: LinkedIn Economic Graph

7. Emerging skills

Business leaders consistently cite difficulties when hiring for Data Analysts and Scientists, AI and Machine Learning Specialists as well as Software and Application Developers, among other emerging roles. 

Top 15 skills for 2025

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Critical thinking and analysis
  • Creativity, originality and initiative
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Technology use, monitoring and control
  • Technology design and programming
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Troubleshooting and user experience
  • Service orientation
  • Systems analysis and evaluation
  • Persuasion and negotiation 

Source: Future of Jobs Survey 2020, World Economic Forum.

Through focused efforts, individuals could acquire one of Coursera’s top 10 mastery skills in emerging professions across People and Culture, Content Writing, Sales and Marketing in one to two months. Learners could expand their skills in Product Development and Data and AI in two to three months; and if they wish to fully re-pivot to Cloud and Engineering, learners could make headway into that key skill set through a 4-5 month learning programme. Such figures suggest that although learning a new skill set is increasingly accessible through new digital technologies, to consolidate new learning individuals will need access to the time and funding to pursue such new career trajectories.

LinkedIn data presented in the report indicates that although many individuals can move into emerging roles with low or mid skills similarity, a low-fit initial transition will still require eventual upskilling and reskilling to ensure long term productivity.


So what is your organizational plan for 2021?

Credit photo: Brand Minds

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