Amid soaring inflation and rising unemployment, here's what you need to know about the future of work.
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Davos 2023: What you need to know about jobs and skills

Deep dive

Amid soaring inflation and rising unemployment, here's what you need to know about the future of work. Image: REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

Forum Agenda
Writer, World Economic Forum
This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • The World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos focused on how to support investment in education, skills and healthcare to future-proof economies.
  • It came amid warnings of a global recession as wages have stagnated against soaring inflation, and emerging markets face rising unemployment.
  • Here’s what you need to know about sessions on the future of work, jobs and skills at Davos, and what lies ahead.

How are the dynamics between employers and employees changing? Where will the green jobs of the future come from and how do we ensure enough workers have the right skills to do them? And can a four-day week address some of the global challenges we face?

These were just a handful of the questions experts tried to answer at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos, from 16-20 January 2023.

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The meeting of global leaders from politics, business and civil society took place amidst a cost-of-living crisis, as the supply chain shocks and quick recovery from the pandemic gave way to rising inflation and an energy and food crisis fueled by the war in Ukraine. Real wages have fallen sharply.


Under the theme 'Cooperation in a Fragmented World', leaders discussed how to shape a new social contract, supporting investment in education, skills and healthcare, to enable social mobility and to future-proof economies.

The cost of living bites
Factors affecting living standards, according to a survey of chief economists. Image: Chief Economists Outlook

Key sessions on the future of work at the Annual Meeting in Davos


Quiet quitting: Leaders are under-skilled in nurturing talent - here are 4 things they need to do

From quiet quitting to the great resignation, what are the symptoms of a changing relationship between workers and employers and how are businesses managing this transition?

Read our round-up of the key quotes from the session here...

With 1 billion jobs liable to be radically transformed by technology in the next decade, what critical interventions are needed to support provide better skills, jobs and education for 1 billion people by 2030?


Moving towards a low-emission economy will require the creation of millions of "green" jobs. Who will create these jobs and how to ensure workers have the right skills to transition into them?

There is a parallel to be drawn between demand for green skills and what we saw in the technology boom. Companies will pay to get the talent they need. Companies working in tech are willing to hire based on skills alone, because they need the people, they’re willing to look beyond the normal things they’d pay attention to.

Allen Blue, Co-Founder and Vice-President, Products, LinkedIn Corporation

What impact will the green transition, technological advances, demographics and reorganized value chains have on labour markets globally in the next five years?


Evaluating employees and new hires based on their skillsets instead of their work history can help level the playing field for workers and broaden the talent pipeline for employers. How can a skills-first approach enable access to high-growth, high-wage jobs of tomorrow?

One of the things we have to tackle if we want to democratize education, is we have to put an emphasis on making sure that anybody who can and wants to, can connect to some sort website.

Hadi Partovi Founder and Chief Executive Officer,

Recent large-scale experiments suggest that workers’ hours can be cut without a corresponding drop in output. Can the four-day work week address some of the most urgent problems in the 21st-century world of work?


With an unprecedented number of refugees forced to flee their homes, labour markets need to respond swiftly. How can business and government work together to create employment opportunities for refugees?


Please treat everyone the same, because hopefully not, but maybe you are next.

I found home in the Netherlands because I was appreciated as an artist, a person and a citizen.

Ahmad Joudeh, ballet dancer

Recent breakthroughs in machine learning mean that increasingly complex cognitive tasks and creative production can be automated. What does it mean for the future of work?

There is always a wave of concern and fear about job loss and whether or not there will be mass unemployment. In fact, unemployment is at a record low right now.

What AI is doing is changing the way that we do work. One thing we are looking at Stanford is keeping humans in the loop.

Erik Brynjolfsson, Jerry Yang and Akiko Yamazaki Professor; Director, Digital Economy Lab, Stanford University

AI can create a more equitable society if used right... Reskilling is the most important part of this.

Mihir Shukla, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Automation Anywhere, Inc.

Reports launched and announcements made at Davos

The World Economic Forum announced that more than 350 million people are being reached with better skills, jobs and education through commitments made as part of its Reskilling Revolution initiative, three years after launching at its Annual Meeting in Davos.

Working with more than 20 governments, 60 global chief executives and a network of over 350 organizations, the Reskilling Revolution is preparing 1 billion people for tomorrow's economy and society by 2030.

Much like a lack of accessibility, representation, equal access to opportunity, and other ways disability exclusion limits socioeconomic participation, the omission of disability data exerts a significant toll. To address the exclusion of disability data in the ESG ecosystem, The Valuable 500 launched a report called ESG & Disability Data: A Call for Inclusive Reporting, a call to action to the business community to align around 5 publicly reported disability inclusion KPIs.

Watch The Valuable 500 Closing the Disability Inclusion Gap press conference here.

The world of work in numbers

2.3 x

Return on investment for each dollar invested into the US education, healthcare and care


Portion of the world economy expected to be in recession in 2023


How much global monthly wages fell in real terms to in the first half of 2022


How many Americans quit their jobs in October 2022


How many jobs could be transformed by technology over the next decade


The portion of global jobs and GDP that SMEs constitute

A snapshot of the world of work in 2023

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been warning of a global recession. Kristalina Georgieva, the head of the IMF, told CBS: "We expect one third of the world economy to be in recession."

The Forum's latest Chief Economists Outlook found that 63% of respondents expect a global recession in 2023 - and 78% expected the business response to include laying off workers to cut costs.

Although, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde explained at Davos that things were looking better than had been feared.

Global monthly wages fell in real terms to minus 0.9% in the first half of 2022, the first time its been negative this century, according to an International Labour Organization (ILO) estimate.


“Income inequality and poverty will rise if the purchasing power of the lowest paid is not maintained," warned ILO Director-General, Gilbert F. Houngbo. "In addition, a much-needed post pandemic recovery could be put at risk. This could fuel further social unrest across the world and undermine the goal of achieving prosperity and peace for all.”

In the UK and across Europe, labour unions were planning and threatening strike action throughout December and into January to demand better pay and conditions amid the cost-of-living crisis.

While in the United States, the Great Resignation was starting to slow down after more than 18 months of workers quitting their jobs in the millions, largely because the COVID-19 pandemic made them re-evaluate their priorities.

In October 2022, four million people quit their jobs, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The labour market stayed ‘tight’ with the number of unfilled positions or job openings standing at 10.3 million, down slightly on the previous month.

Future of work amid chances of a global recession
Nearly two-thirds of economists expect a global recession in 2023. Image: Chief Economists Outlook

The latest Chief Economists Outlook found that almost half of the economists surveyed said wage dynamics would have an adverse impact on living standards in high-income countries in 2023, with just over a third for low-income countries.

Two out of five (41%) of the economists surveyed expected labour markets to remain 'tight' in advanced economies over the course of the year, while 45% of respondents saw talent shortages as being 'somewhat' or 'extremely likely' to exert a drag on business activity.

Investing in social jobs can make the future of work more resilient

Investment in education, healthcare and care could drive growth, and help to close the gender gap, according to experts at the Annual Meeting back in May – and the Forum’s white paper Jobs of Tomorrow: The Triple Returns of Social Jobs in the Economic Recovery.

Modelling based on the US economy showed that every dollar of investment would deliver a multiplier effect of 2.3 times.

The Forum’s Managing Director Saadia Zahidi said: “Social jobs create resilience and boost social mobility, preparing workers for future shocks and preparing societies for a virtuous cycle of human capital development.”

More must-reads about the future of work and the Forum’s impact

Against the backdrop of global economic crisis, combined with accelerating digitalization seen during the pandemic, there’s an urgent need to upskill and reskill the workforce to prepare them for jobs of the future.

The Forum’s Jobs Consortium, a coalition of CEOs, Ministers and other leaders, is meeting at Davos to set forth a new vision for the future of work and to discuss a roadmap for action.

As many as 1.1 billion jobs could be transformed by technology over the next decade, according to the OECD. In January 2020, the Forum launched the Reskilling Revolution platform, to help the global workforce future-proof their careers – and it has so far reached 100 million people. The aim is to reach 1 billion people with better skills, education and economic opportunity by 2030.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) create up to 70% of jobs and GDP globally, but are particularly vulnerable to economic crises. In December, the Forum published its latest insight report into the Future Readiness of SMEs and Mid-Sized Companies, which represent 90% of all companies, with recommendations for how to build resilience.

Other Forum initiatives include:

  • The Good Work Alliance: A global, cross-industry initiative for forward-thinking companies, with input from unions and independent experts, to leverage their individual and collective power towards building a healthy, resilient and equitable future of work.
  • Shaping the Jobs of Tomorrow: A thought-leadership and action framework, including the Forum’s flagship Future of Jobs Report, mobilizing a multistakeholder coalition, and national/industry Jobs Accelerators to create better jobs for the future.
  • Education 4.0: Mobilizing a multistakeholder alliance to advance global education reform, an education 4.0 taxonomy, building a multistakeholder ecosystem for showcasing pathways to their implementation, including through national-level Closing the Education Gap Accelerators.

More on the future of work on Agenda

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