Developing human capital is one of the core themes at the World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit, taking place on 2-3 May 2023.
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Growth Summit 2023: How do we develop human capital for the new future of work?

Deep dive

Developing human capital is one of the core themes at the World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit, taking place on 2-3 May 2023. Image: REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
  • In the next five years, almost a quarter of jobs (23%) are expected to change, according to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2023.
  • AI and machine learning will change the shape of labour markets.
  • Macrotrends, including the green transition, ESG standards and localization of supply chains, are the leading drivers of job growth.
  • Economic challenges including high inflation, slower economic growth and supply shortages pose the greatest threat.
  • Developing human capital was one of the core themes at the World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit, that took place on 2-3 May 2023.

What percentage of workplace tasks are already automated? You might be shocked to learn that it is as high as 34%, according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023. However, you might be just as shocked to learn that this is only 1% higher than it was three years ago.


Future of Jobs 2023: These are the fastest growing and fastest declining jobs

While AI and machine learning are looming large over labour markets, it seems increasingly likely that they could drive a surge in job growth and skill development that will make up for much of the job displacement and task automation driven by those same technologies.

Future of Jobs Report 2023
Future of Jobs Report 2023 Image: World Economic Forum

Around 65% of employers think they will soon be adding jobs in AI and big data. This is why training workers to use AI and big data ranks third among companies’ skills-training priorities for the coming five years – putting it above computer programming and cybersecurity skills.

But amid all the talk of new skills, it’s worth noting which old-fashioned skills beat AI and big data on the list of companies’ training priorities – analytical thinking, which 48% are focusing on, and creative thinking, which 43% are looking to develop.

Other skills companies see as being critical for the years ahead include leadership, resilience, flexibility and agility, plus curiosity and lifelong learning. These are all eminently human skills, and will be key to helping employers and employees adapt to the changing nature of the workplace.

The fastest-growing jobs are...


AI and Machine Learning Specialists


Sustainability Specialists


Business Intelligence Analysts


Information Security Analysts


Fintech Engineers
Future of Jobs Report 2023
Future of Jobs Report 2023 Image: World Economic Forum

It's not just AI changing the skills workers need

The changing skills landscape will not just be a result of AI. Investments in the green energy transition will affect 69% of companies, with more than half predicting it will lead to job creation, the Future of Jobs Report 2023 points out. Meanwhile, supply chain restructuring will reshape businesses, most notably in East Asia, and economic challenges will lead to some job losses around the globe.

“Nearly half of the skills that people like you and I are using every single day in the workplace are going to have to change in the next 4 to 5 years alone. Now, what that means is we need very rapid reskilling and upskilling possibilities.”

Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum
Future of Jobs Report 2023
Future of Jobs Report 2023 Image: World Economic Forum

All of this is why the businesses surveyed for the report believe that 44% of workers’ core skills will be disrupted by 2027. It is therefore critical the right strategies are put in place to empower the learning that workers and workplaces need to undertake to make themselves fit for the rapidly approaching future.

The World Economic Forum’s Growth Summit puts this requirement front and centre by focusing on what companies need to do to develop human capital. Topics for discussion include investing in education and supporting job creation, the impact of AI and lifelong learning.

Sessions on developing human capital at the Growth Summit

Accelerating economic equity, advancing gender equality, and acting on racial and social justice will also be at the top of the agenda. Almost seven out of ten Generation Z workers are not satisfied with their organization’s progress in creating a diverse and inclusive work environment, so it is clear that companies need to take action.

The Growth Summit takes place at the Forum’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on 2-3 May 2023. Here’s a round-up of some of the key sessions taking place, and other World Economic Forum resources on developing human capital.

The Growth Summit will bring together leaders from business, government, civil society, international organizations and academia to discuss the frameworks, solutions, commitments and alliances that can help build the structures the world needs to develop human capital.

2023 Future of Jobs Report Media Briefing

The World Economic Forum's Managing Director, Saadia Zahidi, was joined by LinkedIn's Suzanne Duke, Indeed Inc's Svenja Gudell, and Coursera's Shravan Goli to reveal some of the main findings of the Future of Jobs Report. The panel spoke about job creation, job churn and some job losses, within the context of massive disruption as a result of AI, green tailwinds and economic headwinds.


With an estimated shortfall of 10 million workers in the sector by 2030, the health and care economy is under severe stress. Portuguese MP Ricardo Baptista Leite, Nurse and CEO Howard Cotton, and Medicine Professor Anjali Bhagra discussed the multi-stakeholder policies and strategies that can help recruit, retain and rethink healthcare jobs. They agreed that the mental health and general well-being of healthcare workers need to be prioritised, especially as healthcare systems deal with the aftershocks of the pandemic.


With nearly half of the skills we currently use to do our jobs set to change in the next 5 years, skills gaps, upskilling and reskilling is a strong focus when it comes to growth and resilience.

GogSoon Joo from SkillsFuture Singaore emphasised the importance of a skills strategy to business strategy and the European Commission's Nicolas Schmit explained why we should view reskilling as a positive and important opportunity to invest in people.


Finally Deanna Jones, Baker Hughes Energy Services LLC, warned of the importance of balancing highly technical technical talent and very vocational 'more trades oriented talent' - and not leaving the latter behind.


With jobs being disrupted at remarkable speed by AI and automation, the green transition, shifting supply chains and changes in working practices, the panel discussed the outlook for jobs and how governments, employers and workers should prepare.

Claudia Azevedo, from SONAE said companies and governments need to tackle the mismatch between the current skills in the labour market and the skills it needs for the future.


Younes Sekkouri, Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills of Morocco discussed how the priorities of the GenZ population are different and emphasized the importance of quality jobs to benefit them.


There are lessons to be learned from the history of globalization, said Randstad's Sander van’t Noordende. And "we need all hands on deck".


Artificial Intelligence has been the red line running through every session at the Growth Summit. This panel brought together leaders in tech to address what AI - and particularly generative AI - means for humanity and specifically, how we need to rethink education.

No individual school can figure out long-term solutions, said Hadi Partovi, Founder and Chief Executive Officer,, but they do need to move away from teaching the curriculum of the past. The opportunity of generative AI is to accelerate the evolution of the teaching system.


If teachers are confused in the developed world - the developing world is a whole different challenge, said Njideka U. Harry, Founder and Member of the Executive Board, Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF). She spoke about the digital divide - both within economies and between them and said teachers must be equipped with the best generative AI tools.


But according to David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International we do not currently have a plan in place to ensure the benefits of AI are distributed equally around the globe.

Community-based colleges can help bridge the gap, said Amazon Web Service's VP of Global Education, Kim Majerus.

From increased levels of chronic diseases to safety concerns to mental health illness, workers are facing a myriad of challenges to their health and well-being. The panelists discussed the strategies that are needed to shape healthy workforces and workplaces.


There's more than just automation disrupting jobs and the pace of change has seen an uptick, said Lisa MeloVice-President, Learning and Performance, RBC Financial Group.


Micro-credential and degrees don't have to b mutually exclusive, she added. Azir Aliu, Minister of Information Society and Administration, Ministry of Information Society and Administration, agreed - saying that formal and informal education could work more closely together.


A selection of resources on developing human capital from the World Economic Forum

These reports provide useful and important information for those looking to better understand and implement plans to develop human capital.

The Future of Jobs Report maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change. This is the fourth edition of the report, which was first launched in 2016. It aims to analyse how macrotrends as well as technology adoption are likely to reconfigure labour markets and shape the demand for jobs and skills in the 2023-2027 timeframe. The Future of Jobs Survey brings together the perspective of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers – in 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions.

Taking a "skills-first" approach to employment rather than focusing on academic qualifications is a key part of a new framework put forward by the World Economic Forum and PwC. It means that businesses can secure the skills they need while also democratizing access to jobs.

Labour markets globally are impacted by a period of industry transformation driven by increased adoption of technology, the green transition and value chain restructuring and this is compounded by the current challenging global macro-economic conditions. In light of this, the World Economic Forum is launching a Global Future Council on the Future of Job Creation to explore how investments and incentives can prioritize local and global job creation. After briefly reflecting on the global state of employment, this briefing paper lays out key investment pathways to job creation in preparation for the council's work.

The advent of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has led to wide-ranging opportunities from advanced technologies for business and government. In recent decades, these technologies have often failed to deliver the promised game-changing results for the benefit of society, but there is growing evidence that dynamic governments and purpose-driven businesses are willing to shape a new era of public-private cooperation. A proactive approach and greater strategic planning are now required in order to create the “markets of tomorrow” that meet key societal needs.

A growing and ageing global population looks to exacerbate existing issues with social mobility and human capital development. Meanwhile, geopolitical tensions are amplifying the need to find alternate energy sources amid the already urgent requirement to transform into a more sustainable economy. More social jobs, those in the education, healthcare and care sectors, can help address social mobility and human capital issues. Similarly, more green jobs are essential for enabling an environmental transition.

The The Good Work Framework: A new business agenda for the future of work, launched in May 2022 to help companies establish a new benchmark for job quality by providing a consistent and goal-oriented approach to the development of comprehensive people strategies and to guide measurable actions to promote good work. The toolkit now offers an overview of implementation steps, including key policy changes and global resources, and real-world case studies of Good Work Alliance members.

More women have been moving into paid work in recent decades, and increasingly into leadership positions, but there have been continued headwinds – societal expectations, employer policies, the legal environment and the availability of care infrastructure. This has continued to limit educational opportunities for women, as well as the career possibilities they can pursue. Collective, coordinated and comprehensive action will be needed to create sustained improvements and halt the risks of reversals.

The Forum's Reskilling Revolution platform is helping workers around the world gain the skills needed to future-proof their careers, including with technologies such as AI, and it has already reached 350 million people.

What to read: Articles about developing human capital on Agenda

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The fastest-growing jobs are...It's not just AI changing the skills workers need

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