The future of work is not at all bleak provided companies take timely action

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It’s true that we have a work revolution on our hands, that human jobs are being threatened by staggering technological advancement but the more the picture develops, the clearer it becomes that humans will keep working for the foreseeable future.

Artificial intelligence is set to create a net positive job growth. Machines and algorithms in the workplace are estimated to create 133 million new jobs by 2022, but in the same period, 75 million jobs will be displaced by 2022. This is according to The Future of Jobs 2018 report by the World Economic Forum (WEF). That boils down to 58 million net new jobs by 2022.

While nearly 50% of all companies expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation, almost 40% expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise.

The findings look at the trends expected in 2018-2022 in 20 economies and 12 industry sectors.

What about robots?

Image by Aytuguluturk from Pixabay

While many companies are likely to expand their adoption of technologies such as the internet of things and app- and web-enabled markets, cloud computing, machine learning and augmented and virtual reality, they will not start employing robots as yet. Those that do make use of robots will deploy stationary, not humanoid robots. However, the use of robots differs significantly across different sectors, with up to 37% of companies planning to investment in robots is some industries.

Rate of automation

The division of labor between humans, machines and algorithms is changing. Currently, humans perform 71% of task hours across industries, with 29% done by machines and algorithms. This ratio is about to shift to 58% task hours performed by humans and 42% by machines and algorithms by 2022. By 2025 the ration will have shifted to 48% tasks performed by humans. This shift will have a major impact on the global workforce.

According to the report, about half of today’s core jobs, representing most of employment across industries, will remain stable in the period up to 2022.

These estimates represent two things happening at the same time: on the one hand large-scale diminishing of some roles as tasks within these roles become automated or redundant, and on the other hand, large-scale growth in new products and services, bringing about new tasks and jobs.

Jobs that will be in demand in the future

If you are working in one of the following professions, your skills will become even more in demand up to 2022: data analyst and scientist, software and applications developer, and e-commerce and social media specialist, in other words, jobs that require in-depth knowledge and use of technology.

On the other side of the scale, jobs that depend heavily on ‘human’ skills will also increase. These include customer service workers, sales and marketing professionals, training and development, and organizational development specialists as well as innovation managers.

The WEF report also foresees that there will be an increased demand for new specialist roles related to the latest emerging technologies. These jobs include AI and machine learning specialists, big data specialists, process automation experts, information security analysts, user experience and human-machine interaction designers, robotics engineers, and blockchain specialists.