It’s a question that people have been asking for years: Will robots take our jobs? Fears of robots replacing humans at work have only increased since the coronavirus outbreak sped up the process of automation. 

A Word Economic Forum (WEF) study has found that COVID-19 has caused the labor market to change faster than expected. And the “future of work” has already arrived.

The Future of Jobs report released this week says that technology will destroy 85 million jobs in the next five years. But the good news is that 97 million jobs will emerge across the care industry, in tech industries like artificial intelligence (AI), and in content creation.

The report says employers will divide work between humans and machines equally by 2025. Demand for roles that leverage human skills will rise and machines will focus on tasks such as information and data processing.

Highlights From The Report

Here are some highlights from the report on upskilling and reskilling:

  • Despite the economic downturn, the majority of employers recognize the value of human capital investment. An average of 66% of employers expect a return on investment in upskilling and reskilling within a year. 

  • The most competitive businesses will be those that choose to reskill and upskill current employees.

  • For those workers set to remain in their roles in the next five years, nearly 50% will need reskilling for their core skills.

  • On average, employers expect to offer reskilling and upskilling to just over 70% of their employees by 2025. However, employee engagement in those courses is lagging, with only 42% of employees taking up employer-supported reskilling and upskilling opportunities.

Here are some highlights from the report on top skills in the future:

  • In 2025, analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility are among the top skills needed; with data and artificial intelligence, content creation and cloud computing the top emerging professions

  • Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. The top skills and skill groups that will become more prominent include 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, a sharp uptake from 65% in 2018.

Here are some highlights from the report on online learning:

  • The number of individuals seeking online learning opportunities on their own has increased four-fold and employer provision of online learning opportunities to their workers has jumped five-fold.

  • Online learning and training is on the rise but looks different for those in employment and those who are unemployed. 

  • Those in employment are placing a 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.

Final Thoughts

As remote working continues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employers are concerned about the productivity and well-being of their employees. About one-third of all employers expect to take steps to create a sense of community, connection and belonging among employees through digital tools to tackle the well-being challenges posed by the shift to remote work.


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