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A work in progress

5 May, 2023

It’s a very good time to become an AI and machine learning specialist, and a less good one to become a bank clerk, based on an assessment of the fastest growing and declining careers over the next five years. Published this week, the Future of Jobs Report from the World Economic Forum explores the rapid and unprecedented shift currently occurring in the job market, in response to macro trends that are causing some industries to bloom, and others to dwindle.

The digital revolution, new technology, and a greater appetite for ESG standards are among the main macrotrends pushing this shift in the world of work, with AI and machine learning specialists, sustainability specialists (hurrah!) and analyst roles expected to be the fastest growing jobs in the next five years.

But the growth of these industries and trends, in combination with global economic decline, is also resulting in a rapid decrease in traditional roles such as bank, postal and ticket clerks, whose jobs are becoming increasingly redundant in the face of growing automation and digitisation. The effect of this is that in the next five years, 23% of jobs are expected to change, with 69 million jobs being created and 83 million eliminated, resulting in a reduction in employment of 2%.

The reality is that there is a skill mismatch between the jobs in decline and those growing, meaning many employees who will be pushed out of their existing roles may struggle to benefit from the rise in opportunities elsewhere. There is a lot of talk (although arguably still not enough) about the need for a just transition in terms of the path to net zero. We need to also be thinking about a just transition in the digital revolution. For companies, the challenge lies in navigating this transitory period responsibly to facilitate a structural shift with minimal human damage. For businesses, this begins with confronting the inevitable change that will occur in the coming years and considering how to protect employees, perhaps through effective training, new job opportunities and constructive social dialogue. Don’t be surprised to see “changes in structural employment trends” appear on your list of material sustainability issues in the near future.

By Rosie Serlin

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