• A UK report shows the 20 roles likely to be in high demand in the new decade.
  • Routine-based roles will shrink as automation takes hold.
  • Coders and carers among the fastest-growing occupations.
  • Women risk greater net job losses than men.

If you’re in a high-tech or "high-touch" job (think teachers, nurses, carers) you have reasons to be positive about the future of work.

Coders and carers were among the fastest-growing occupations in the period 2011-2019, according to an analysis from the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce. Using data from the UK Labour Force Survey, it looked at net change in total employment over the period, and highlighted 20 areas that expanded.

“It may come as little surprise that programmers and software developers were the fastest-growing occupations,” said Fabian Wallace-Stephens, a researcher at the RSA. “IT directors and business analysts were also in the top 20.”

20 fastest growing occupations (2011-19)
The fastest growing occupations in the UK between 2011 and 2019
Image: RSA

The roles with the quickest expansion saw more than 160,000 new positions created, a 72% increase. More of those high-tech roles are expected to emerge in the 2020s, Wallace-Stephens said, as technology companies look beyond their traditional remits to disrupt other sectors such as healthcare and finance.

There will also be an increased need for jobs such as primary and nursery school teachers, care workers, nurses and nursing assistants, fuelled by changing demographics and an ageing population.

Future of jobs

The analysis chimes with the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, which gives grounds for both optimism and caution. It says that the introduction of machines and algorithms in the workplace could create as many as 133 million new roles, while displacing around 75 million between 2018 and 2022.

The Forum’s report predicts demand will increase for data analysts and scientists, software and applications developers, and e-commerce and social media specialists. It also says roles that require “human skills,” such as sales and marketing and customer service, will increase.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

The World Economic Forum was the first to draw the world’s attention to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the current period of unprecedented change driven by rapid technological advances. Policies, norms and regulations have not been able to keep up with the pace of innovation, creating a growing need to fill this gap.

The Forum established the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network in 2017 to ensure that new and emerging technologies will help—not harm—humanity in the future. Headquartered in San Francisco, the network launched centres in China, India and Japan in 2018 and is rapidly establishing locally-run Affiliate Centres in many countries around the world.

The global network is working closely with partners from government, business, academia and civil society to co-design and pilot agile frameworks for governing new and emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), autonomous vehicles, blockchain, data policy, digital trade, drones, internet of things (IoT), precision medicine and environmental innovations.

Learn more about the groundbreaking work that the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network is doing to prepare us for the future.

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Both reports also consider what types of job are likely to shrink – and the consequences.

20 fastest shrinking occupations (2011-2019)
The top 20 fastest shrinking occupations between 2011-2019
Image: RSA

Routine-based roles such as data-entry, accounting and payroll clerks, are likely to decline and may ultimately disappear.

Women worse off

There’s a gender element to the findings as well, with many traditional high-street jobs, such as retail-sales assistants, check-out cashiers, bank and post-office clerks and dry cleaners, already at risk and disappearing. Nearly 300,000 high-street jobs have been lost over the past decade, 81% of which were held by women.

In contrast, women make up fewer than 20% of the new tech roles that have been created.