As automation and online work gain ground, organizers of the annual Davos forum are projecting employers will split work equally between machines and people by 2025, with the coronavirus pandemic accelerating changes in the labour market.
The World Economic Forum, in a recent report on the future of jobs, expects that a new division of labour between humans and machines will upend and eliminate some 85 million jobs globally across 15 industries. But it also expects that 97 million new roles will emerge in sectors like artificial intelligence, content-creation and “the care economy” involving kids and the elderly.
“In essence, the rate of job destruction has gone up and the rate of job creation has gone down,” said WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi. “The good news is that overall, the jobs that are being created still are in greater numbers than the jobs that are being destroyed. But the rate has changed and that’s obviously going to make it difficult for workers to find their next role.”
The forum, says jobs involving data entry, accounting and administrative support are set to decline, while it pointed to upsides for “frontline workers” like nurses, grocery store workers, postal workers and care workers who have shown their importance during the COVID crisis.
“For those workers, there may be some good news in the future because there will be upward wage pressure and much more recognition of the type of work they do,” Zahidi said. But sectors like aviation and tourism, which have been “on pause” during the crisis, could come under intense pressure if the COVID crisis continues, leading to permanent job losses, she said.