The Fourth Industrial Revolution, to use World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab’s slogan, is well and truly on its way. However, the latest report out of Davos (the location of the WEF’s annual gathering of business leaders and politicians) is that whilst 75 million jobs could be displaced by rapid technological advances, roughly 133 million jobs could be created within the next 10 years.
‘The Future Of Jobs Report 2018’ that covers 20 economies and 12 industries, makes for stark reading. Whilst Data Analysists, Scientists, AI Machine Learning Specialists, Software Developers and Application Analysts make it into the top 5 emerging roles that will contribute to some 133 million new jobs, Accountants, Postal Service Clerks, Business Services Managers and Customer Service Workers all make it into the top 5 declining roles and therefore the most likely to contribute to predicted loss of 75 million jobs.
The report provides ‘a nuanced, realistic view of the near future of work’ states World Economic Forum Managing Director Saadia Zahidi in an accompanying article. But has it done much to ease the some 6 million people across Britain who, according to a survey conducted by the Fabian Society and the Community Trade union, are worried their jobs could be replaced by machines? Maybe not, but the report does suggest that demand for inherently ‘human’ skills such as creativity, persuasion, negotiation, leadership, flexibility and resilience has increased.
With this demand comes a ‘unique window of opportunity’ continues Zahidi — one that will require inter-industry collaboration rather than competition for talent. This is a strategy that proved extremely fruitful for Italy’s motorsport manufacturing companies a couple of years ago. Redundancies in declining sectors coupled with skill shortages in their own industry meant that in 2013 Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini created a co-operation syndicate that greatly mitigated the costs of re- and up-skilling. This is not an easy proposal to make and/or implement but members of the WEF argue that it needs to be at least a practical consideration when more than eight out of ten businesses surveyed in Britain said they were keen to automate part of their company in the next five years.