Future of Jobs: Technology, green transition to drive opportunities

Future of Jobs: Technology, green transition to drive opportunities
Future of Jobs: Technology, green transition to drive opportunities

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DUBAI: The job churn in Saudi Arabia is expected to be 23 percent over the next five years, in line with the global average as 23 percent of jobs are expected to change by 2027, with 69 million new jobs created and 83 million eliminated, according to the latest Future of Jobs report by the World Economic Forum.

The fourth edition of the report, which maps the jobs and skills of the future and tracks the pace of change, aims to analyze how macro trends and technology adoption will transform labor markets and affect demand in the next five years.

The key drivers of job growth are macro trends such as green transition, environmental, social and governance standards, and the localization of supply chains.

On the other hand, high inflation, slower economic growth and supply shortages are the economic challenges resulting from the dwindling of jobs.

As more companies adopt new technologies and accelerate digitization, the job market will see a significant churn.

Advancements in technology, particularly in large language models such as ChatGPT, have caused some to be concerned about AI’s potential to overtake humans, resulting in the loss of jobs.

However, the report said there will be an overall net positive in job creation.

Still, it is worth noting that traits such as reasoning, communicating and coordinating — better suited to humans than machines — are expected to be more automated in the future.

AI, for example, which is expected to be adopted by nearly 75 percent of companies, is estimated to lead to high churn with 25 percent of organizations expecting it to create job losses and 50 percent expecting it to create job growth.

“For people around the world, the past three years have been filled with upheaval and uncertainty for their lives and livelihoods, with COVID-19, geopolitical and economic shifts, and the rapid advancement of AI and other technologies now risks adding more uncertainty,” said Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the WEF.

“The good news is that there is a clear way forward to ensure resilience.”

Unsurprisingly, the fastest growing roles are those being driven by technology and digitization. In Saudi Arabia, AI and machine learning specialists are the top roles for business transformation.

Similarly, among industries in the Kingdom, big data analytics is the technology most likely to drive industry transformation (48 percent), followed by digital platforms and apps (45 percent), encryption and cybersecurity (43 percent) and AI (41 percent).

Globally, the employment of data analysts and scientists, big data specialists, AI machine learning specialists and cybersecurity professionals is expected to grow on average by 30 percent in the next five years.

The increased potential of technology will create jobs in the long term, the report said, but it must be accompanied by reskilling and upskilling talent to better suit the evolving job economy.

Training workers to utilize AI and big data will be prioritized by 42 percent of companies in the next five years, ranking behind analytical thinking (48 percent) and creative thinking (43 percent).

The need for reskilling is evident in the report, with companies reporting that skills gaps and an inability to attract talent are the key barriers to transformation.

Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, and on average, 44 percent of an individual worker’s skills will need to be updated.

Currently, there is a gap between individuals’ skills and companies’ needs and the responsibility of bridging this gap falls on companies and governments, the report said, with 45 percent of surveyed businesses saying that government funding for skills training would help provide more employment opportunities for talent.

For example, according to research conducted by LinkedIn for the report, despite continued growth in green jobs in the past four years, reskilling and upskilling toward green skills are not moving at the same pace.

Investment in climate-related areas and increasing consumer awareness around sustainability are resulting in new job opportunities in the fields of green energy and agriculture.

The strongest factor contributing to job creation in these fields is investment that facilitates the green transition of businesses, with more than 50 percent of organizations surveyed expecting it.

Moreover, as countries shift to more renewable energy sources, jobs such as renewable energy engineers and solar energy installation and systems engineers will be in high demand, according to the report.

Investment will also drive growth more broadly in roles such as sustainability specialists and environmental protection professionals, which are expected to grow by 33 percent and 34 percent respectively.

Jobs for agricultural professionals, especially agricultural equipment operators, graders and sorters, are expected to see a 15 to 30 percent increase, leading to an additional 4 million jobs.

“The sustained growth of green jobs is really great news, particularly for job seekers who are facing upheaval in the labor market,” said Sue Duke, head of Global Public Policy at LinkedIn.

However, LinkedIn’s data shows that despite a “strong demand for talent with green skills, people are not developing green skills at anywhere near a fast enough rate to meet climate targets,” Duke said.

It is a similar story in the field of education, where jobs are expected to grow by about 10 percent, leading to 3 million additional jobs for vocational education teachers and university and higher education teachers.

While demand for social jobs such as those in health and education has grown faster during the pandemic, these job openings are harder to fill than others, according to the employment website Indeed.

“We believe we must continue to embrace AI and technology to help job seekers and employers as we navigate near-term macroeconomic headwinds and long-term labor market challenges,” said Hisayuki Idekoba, president and CEO of Indeed’s parent company, Recruit Holdings.

The company was anticipating a labor shortage for “many years ahead” across several sectors as “the population ages,” he said.

“Therefore, it is essential that we identify new ways to simplify the hiring process to support a thriving economy and society where everyone can prosper together,” Idekoba said.

It is good news then that four in five surveyed companies plan to invest in learning and training on the job in the next five years.

The value of human capital and skills is only increasing with strong cognitive skills being increasingly valued by employers.

Globally, companies see analytical thinking and creative thinking as the most important skills in 2023, and this is expected to remain so in the next five years. Skills related to technological literacy, specifically AI and big data, will become more important and in the next five years.

In Saudi Arabia, analytical thinking is the skill most prioritized for reskilling and upskilling in the next five years, with 55 percent of companies saying so, followed by AI and big data (52 percent).

Zahidi said: “Governments and businesses must invest in supporting the shift to the jobs of the future through the education, reskilling and social support structures that can ensure individuals are at the heart of the future of work.”

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