• The global labour market can absorb approximately 150 million new tech jobs during the next five years. And many other traditional jobs will become “tech-enabled jobs,” requiring the employees who fill them to have more digital skills.
  • Targeting investments to help workers build the right skills is critical, but it is even more important that we ensure we are not leaving underrepresented groups behind.

The coronavirus pandemic squarely hit the labour market, and in the first half of 2020 we have seen many of the trends we have been tracking around the future of work accelerate at a rapid clip. Though we’ve seen the immediate shift to a socially-distanced and even more digital world touch all parts of the globe, the impact to the labour market has played out differently across countries, industries and populations.

We have a rocky road ahead: first, we must tackle unemployment and cope with the volatile cycles of economic recovery. And we must also make pressing decisions about how we get people back to work in resilient, sustainable jobs. Reskilling efforts have become more urgent than ever as we settle into our new normal.

Despite the challenges ahead, there is reason for optimism.

Our latest research reveals that it is possible to help move workers into the jobs of tomorrow, even if they don’t have a complete skills match.

What’s happening in the labour market right now?

For the Forum’s latest Future of Jobs Report, we looked at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted global labour markets with a real-time view into how global hiring has fared.

Hiring dropped globally at the height of the crisis, and we saw an initial rebound in hiring over the summer that gave promising signs of a quick, V-shaped recovery. However, we are now seeing the early rebound slowing, and the pace of recovery levelling out as many countries remain far below where they were a year ago.

As the pandemic's impact on countries and industries has differed, the hiring recovery is also playing out differently across both. China and France are leading hiring recovery, while the US, Australia and UK lag behind. Some industries have also proved more resilient in adapting to socially-distanced operations or were nimble with “switching back on” to meet pent-up demand over the summer months. But the pandemic did impact every industry, even the more stable software and finance.

Meeting the demand for emerging jobs

As we move towards recovery, there’s no doubt that our “normal” will look different than before. With the massive acceleration of technological change, we are estimating the global labour market can absorb approximately 150 million new tech jobs during the next five years. And many other traditional jobs will become “tech-enabled jobs,” requiring the employees who fill them to have more digital skills.

From the Future of Jobs Report 2020
Image: World Economic Forum

All of these forces in the labour market contribute to a huge skilling challenge ahead for individuals, employers and governments. Workers who have lost jobs need to build new (largely digital) skills to find emerging jobs that are on the rise; employers need to upskill current employees with tech skills to navigate the virtual workplace; governments will have to provide skilling programmes to ensure that their workforce is ready for a digital future.

Jobs of the future: more accessible than you’d think

All of these changes will require people to transition from jobs of the past to those of the future. Building on the jobs of tomorrow we identified with the Forum at the start of 2020, this latest research looks specifically at how people transition into them. The analysis is grounded in our understanding of skills, and the clusters of skills that create bridges between jobs.

The majority of transitions into jobs of tomorrow come from non-emerging jobs, proving that it is not only possible to move into an emerging job, but actually very common. Some of the emerging job clusters show a higher level of openness for people coming from other occupations: more than 70% of the people moving into the clusters Product Development and Data and AI come from different job families; but Engineering and People and Culture, are significantly lower with 19% and 26% respectively. These types of jobs are fairly established and the labour market has had time to build talent pipelines for these roles, whereas Product Development and Data and AI are newer, constantly-evolving pockets within the labour market.

Image: LinkedIn Economic Graph data in the Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum

When we look at the skills profiles of people moving into emerging jobs, we see the same trend mirrored: emerging jobs in Cloud Computing and Data and AI present greater opportunities for people to pivot into professions without making significant changes to the skills they already have. Emerging jobs in Engineering and HR, however, are more closed to unconventional transitions and require higher skills overlap.

Image: LinkedIn Economic Graph data in the Future of Jobs Report 2020, World Economic Forum

The insights show that transitions into emerging jobs are more accessible than we might have thought, and can help us understand where to target reskilling investments that will have the highest impact for immediate- and long-term career transitions.

Bringing everyone along

Targeting investments to help workers build the right skills is critical, but it is even more important that we ensure we are not leaving underrepresented groups behind.

We know that the most underrepresented groups have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Women’s employment is especially vulnerable. On LinkedIn, we saw that women’s share of new hires took a hit globally, dropping from 46.94% in February to a low of 43.7% low in April. Millennial women saw the largest drops, shining a light on the unfortunate reality that women have shouldered the burden of childcare and eldercare responsibilities during this crisis.

As the pandemic has exposed the most persistent inequities in society, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that our investments into the education, training and skilling needed to facilitate economic recovery will reach the groups who face the highest barriers to opportunity.