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Post-Pandemic Scenarios – IX – Future of work

Overview of changes in workforce occupation by sector and by geography. Darker blue signals a strong increase, black signals a strong decrease. Image credit: McKinsey

Macro-shift in the Workforce

The Digital Transformation is ongoing and it is a major force in reshaping the market, in terms of value perception -thus shifting demands- and in reshaping the way the offer is created. Both of these factors are clearly affecting the workforce in volume, in quality (skills) and in the way of work.

  1. Volume
    As shown in the graphic, created by McKinsey, over the next ten years we will have a significant change in jobs demand, depending on the geography and even more by the sector.
    With the exception of China and India (that have a strong -emerging- internal market) and that are expecting a growth of jobs over the whole landscape, the other geographical areas, to different degrees, are expecting a growth of jobs in the areas of  (in the expected ranking of growth)
    – Health aides, care workers
    – STEM professionals
    – Health professionals
    – Managers
    – Business/legal professionals
    – Creatives and arts management
    – Transportation serviceson the other hand, the expectation is in a decrease of jobs (in order of lower to greater decrease):

    Sharp increase in e-commerce as result of Covid-19. It is important to notice not just the increase -year over year- but also the share of eCommerce vs brick and mortar. Image credit: McKinsey

    – Community services
    – Builders
    – Mechanical installation and repair
    – Customer service and sales
    – Food services
    – Agriculture
    – Production and warehousing
    – Office support

    If you remember previous forecasts on jobs demand you’ll notice that with the possible exception of Healthcare the differences are not significant in the post-Covid scenario. This s is not surprising in a 2030 horizon since the shift is driven by the DX, the Covid may just accelerate it in some sectors, like the sudden increase in on-line shopping that has increased the pressure on mom-and-pop stores and on malls.

  2. Quality
    The expectation is an ever increasing automation and support in working activities coming from the use of artificial intelligence. The shift of many activities to the cyberspace requires increased skills and knowledge to operate in that space and in turns these operations create data that are fuelling AI algorithms thus further increasing its role in work activities.
    STEM curricula are becoming even more essential in tomorrow’s workforce and continuous education is becoming a must both form companies and for individuals that are seeing their competitive value on the work market shrinking at a time when the market itself is shrinking thus  requiring individual workers to look for new employment opportunities.
    The cooperation between workers and machines will keep increasing also in quality: it is no longer about “operating” a machine, rather about merging competences with cross learning.
  3. Way of working
    This is the point that has been addressed by the FTI’s report and I will discuss that in the next post.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.