• Labour markets around the world were already going through significant transformations when COVID-19 hit.
  • The pandemic has accelerated changes in the labour market that had already begun to take effect.
  • From remote working to digitalization, here are five of those changes, as revealed by LinkedIn's data.

Labour markets around the world were already going through significant transformations when COVID-19 hit two years ago. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the pace of change, causing major upheaval along the way. As we start 2022 – and enter our third year of living and working through a global pandemic – we can see five themes that are shaping the labour market and this new world of work.

Remote and hybrid work

Firstly, the pandemic has prompted a profound rethink of how we work. Companies have spent the last two years looking closely at their working models, but also their cultures and values. We see that playing out clearly in LinkedIn’s data. Globally, the demand for remote and hybrid work continues to sky-rocket.

The share of paid jobs offering remote work had nearly doubled at the end of 2021. In just one year, roles offering remote work went from 6.5% in November 2020 to 12.6% in November 2021. In order to be competitive for candidates, employers are having to look closely at what they can offer, but also how they can make their workplaces inclusive when they’re hybrid. This will continue to be a focus this year.

New roles

In addition to how they work, the past two years have also seen employees rethink why they work, and what they most want to do with their careers and lives. Globally, our data is showing that employees are voting with their feet. In October 2021, the share of members changing roles was up 25% compared to the pre-pandemic period in October 2019, as employees are taking their experience and skills to new roles at an accelerated pace.

Different industries

We’re also seeing that workers are more likely to transition into new industries. In the US, workers report better compensation, alignment with their values and career progression as the key factors in changing industries. It’s clear that this rethink is prompting real change in the labour market, with employees much more empowered to negotiate terms than in the past. This is the tightest labour market in recent memory, and it looks like it could get even tighter in 2022.

Jobs in health and care

While workers are now more likely to change jobs and industries, the pandemic is also creating new career opportunities in the health and care sector at scale. LinkedIn’s annual Jobs on the Rise data shows that in the US, the pandemic response clearly shaped the fastest-growing roles in the last year, with 'vaccine specialist' rising to the top of the list.

In the UK, we saw 'laboratory scientist' and 'public health officer' make the top-20 list of fastest-growing roles, as economies continue to grapple with the impact of the pandemic. With the omicron variant creating serious challenges for public health authorities around the world, this theme shows little sign of abating.

Our fastest-growing roles list is also a stark reminder of how the pandemic has hit fast-forward on the digitalization of the global economy. The Fourth Industrial Revolution was already creating a surge in demand for artificial intelligence and engineering roles, and in both the UK and the US we continue to see huge growth in engineering roles.

Worrying gender gap

While organizations continue to fight for this talent, we still see deeply worrying signs that these jobs are male-dominated, with men often accounting for 80-90% of hires for engineering roles. As we look at how to tackle the deep gender disparity in our societies, it is critical to make sure women are hired into these roles. There is still much more to be done to make these roles attractive to women and help women make the move into emerging technology roles.

The bigger picture

While the pandemic has been the main topic of conversation for the past two years, and the key force in the four themes that I’ve just outlined, we cannot afford to lose sight of the bigger picture. Climate change remains the biggest issue facing society and we don’t have a moment to lose on making environmental progress.

While there was some progress at COP26, and the green skills we need to transition our economy are growing, LinkedIn’s green skills data shows we’re not moving at anywhere near the pace we need to be. We’re used to thinking that greening the planet is done by a limited number of occupations. But our data shows that we urgently need a mindset shift. If we’re to meet our climate targets – and we must – every worker has a role to play in that by applying a green lens to every aspect of their job.

This is a lot to adjust to. And these are sizeable changes from what we were thinking about the last time the Annual Meeting at Davos took place. But if we can take a positive from the pandemic, it’s that we can make fast progress when we need to. The enormous increase in remote work alone is clear proof that we can create positive change. Let’s hope there is more of it to come.