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What they're saying about the future of work: key quotes from Davos

Ivanka Trump, Assistant and Adviser to the President of the United States speaking in the Press Conference: Reskilling Revolution: Better Skills for a Billion People by 2030 at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 22 January. Media Village - Press Conference Room. Copyright by World Economic Forum/Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary

Participants discussed the urgent need to reskill the workforce in Davos. Image: World Economic Forum/Sikarin Fon Thanachaiary

Samantha Sault
Writer, Washington DC and Geneva
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Future of Work

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The World Economic Forum has launched an initiative to provide 1 billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030.
  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution is expected to transform one third of all jobs in the next decade.

"How do we build more social cohesion? How do we ensure that people have pathways to social mobility?" asked Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, during the launch of a new workforce initiative at the Forum’s 2020 Annual Meeting in Davos.

"One of the most important ways to do that is to ensure that people have the right education, the right skills and the right jobs," she said.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is expected to transform more than 1 billion jobs – almost one-third of all jobs worldwide – in the next decade.

This technological transformation is also expected to create 133 million new ones – as soon as 2022.

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This means we need to prioritize reskilling ­– ensuring people around the world have the education, training and skills to meet the demands of their changing jobs today and prepare for the jobs of tomorrow, some of which might not even exist yet.

The World Economic Forum joined with governments and global companies to launch Reskilling Revolution, an initiative with the goal of providing 1 billion people with better education, skills and jobs by 2030, focused on the most-in demand skills and jobs sparked by the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Throughout the week, leaders in business and government spoke about the urgent need to upskill and reskill the global workforce. Here are some highlights.

On the positive outlook for jobs:

"We’re not necessarily looking at a negative future in terms of jobs, but what we are looking at is a major shift in terms of the set of skills within each job and the types of jobs that will exist in the future – whether that is in the care economy or the education sector or the IT sector, there are a number of growing roles." – Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum

On the role of business:

"Industry knows what jobs they are going to be creating and what jobs they are going to be displacing. They know far ahead of the government which investments they are making in productivity, which will cause a ripple effect within their workforce. At the same time, corporations more than ever feel a sense of civic obligation – and what better place to start than within your own family, within your own company." – Ivanka Trump, Assistant and Adviser to US President Donald J. Trump

She also spoke about the Pledge to America’s Workers, in which 400 companies have committed to join with the government to reskill 15 million American students and workers:

These are some of the fastest-growing professions of the future.
These are some of the fastest-growing professions of the future. Image: World Economic Forum
On prioritizing skills over credentials:

"We have to think about skills-based learning, as opposed to purely credentials...Employers care about the skills." – Ivanka Trump, Assistant and Adviser to US President Donald J. Trump


"You have to value skills and not just degrees. You have to have new education models and new pathways to get people retrained and back into the workforce." – Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President and CEO of IBM Corporation

On what skills will be in demand:

Muriel Pénicaud, France's Minister of Labour, discussed what skills the workforce should learn.

"First, I think it’s soft skills – probably the most difficult to learn, but probably the most decisive for the long term."

"And second, it’s learn, learn, learn. It means curiosity. People will have a range of skills that will be unique to each person tomorrow, because they will learn AI, but also cooking, and also soft skills. This cocktail of skills will make the difference over time."

"It’s not a package that you deliver. It will be a continuous process."

Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labour of France speaking in the Social Mobility: Reskilling the Next Billion session at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2020 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, 22 January. Congres Center - Sanada. Copyright by World Economic Forum/Faruk Pinjo
Muriel Pénicaud (center) and Robert Moritz (right) discuss social mobility and reskilling in Davos. Image: World Economic Forum/Faruk Pinjo
On the need for continuous learning:

"The mindset of continuous learning is really important as the number one skillset for our teachers learning how to teach and for our students learning how to learn. And that’s the mindset we’ve got to get into the curriculum today." – Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC

On why reskilling is part of stakeholder capitalism:

"If you are attending this conference, you need to commit to job training. If you are attending this conference, you need to commit to reskilling."

"And that is what we mean by stakeholder capitalism, serving all stakeholders – including the workforce." – Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO, Salesforce

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalJobs and the Future of WorkEducation and Skills
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