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World Economic Forum: Half of all workplace tasks could be automated by 2025

  • by Career Moves News
  • 17 Sep 2018

The World Economic Forum, a non-profit, also details in their Future of Jobs 2018 report that as many as 133 million new jobs will be created by machines by 2025, whilst 75 million jobs could be displaced.

These estimates are a result of a changing division of labour between humans and machines, as businesses are adapting to the growing importance of technology and the growing relationships between humans, machines, and algorithms.

Companies expect a significant shift on the frontier between humans and machines when it comes to existing work tasks between 2018 and 2022.

The report details that:

  • In 2018, an average of 71% of total task hours across the 12 industries covered in the report are performed by humans, compared to 29% by machines. By 2022, this average is expected to have shifted to 58% task hours performed by humans and 42% by machines.
  • In 2018, in terms of total working hours, no work task was yet estimated to be predominantly performed by a machine or an algorithm. By 2022, this picture is projected to have somewhat changed, with machines and algorithms on average increasing their contribution to specific tasks by 57%.
  • Half of today’s core jobs, making up the bulk of employment across industries, remain stable in the period up to 2022. By 2022, no less than 54% of all employees will require significant re- and upskilling. Of these, about 35% are expected to require additional training of up to six months, 9% will require reskilling lasting six to 12 months, while 10% will require additional skills training of more than a year. Skills continuing to grow in prominence by 2022 include analytical thinking and innovation as well as active learning and learning strategies.

Employers indicate that they are set to prioritize and focus their re- and upskilling efforts on employees currently performing high-value roles as a way of strengthening their enterprise’s strategic capacity, with 54% and 53% of companies, respectively, stating they intend to target employees in key roles, and in frontline roles which will be using relevant new technologies.

These represent two parallel and interconnected fronts of change in workforce transformations:

  1. Large-scale decline in some roles as tasks within these roles become automated or redundant
  2. Large-scale growth in new products and services, and associated new tasks and jobs, generated by the adoption of new technologies and other socio-economic developments such as the rise of middle classes in emerging economies and demographic shifts

In addition, 41% of employers are set to focus their reskilling provision on high-performing employees while a much smaller proportion of 33% stated that they would prioritize at-risk employees in roles expected to be most affected by technological disruption. In other words, those most in need of reskilling and upskilling are least likely to receive such training.

Proficiency in new technologies is only one-part of 2022 skills equation. As ‘human’ skills have been identified as a necessity in the future of work, the following attributes Certain ‘human’ skills such as:

  • Creativity
  • Originality and initiative
  • Critical thinking
  • Persuasion and negotiation
  • Attention to detail
  • Resilience
  • Flexibility
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Leadership
  • Social influence

The findings of the report suggest companies should look to combine the automation of some job tasks to complement and enhance their human workforce to increase strengths and empower employees to extend to their full potential. Titled an ‘augmentation strategy’, companies are suggested to broaden their planning of value-creating activities that can be accomplished by human workers, often alongside technology, to free them of the need to perform routine, repetitive tasks, and better use their human talents.

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