Jobs and the Future of Work

8 global issues shaping and driving job creation

Job quality – a necessary condition for successful good job creation.

Job quality – a necessary condition for successful good job creation. Image: Getty Images

Steffica Warwick
Specialist, Work, Wages and Job Creation, World Economic Forum
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Future of Work

This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • Leaders need to address challenges and opportunities for labour markets presented by shifting demographics, job displacement and AI.
  • Governments and businesses can boost further job creation by investing in SME development, infrastructure, global trade and human capital.
  • In order to be beneficial for societies and economies, new jobs created must be ‘good jobs’.

Multiple global trends and challenges are causing a need for good job creation across industries, countries and regions. To help clarify the ecosystem of job creation, the Global Future Council on the Future of Job Creation mapped key issues shaping and driving global job creation in a Strategic Intelligence Transformation Map and briefing paper, Key Issues Shaping and Driving Global Job Creation.

Job quality: a necessary precondition of job creation

Ensuring that citizens have employment opportunities to support themselves and their families is a requirement of any well-functioning society. But not all employment is good employment. A ‘good job’ is a job that provides the worker with stable and predictable hours, makes them feel safe, valued and supported, provides opportunities for learning and development, and gives them a voice in decisions that impact them. This is not just good for the worker, but also for business and the wider economy – investment in good jobs can help absorb shocks on employment in the short term, making societies and economies resilient to change. Ensuring job quality requires, as a minimum, strong industrial relations based on freedom of association, social dialogue and collective bargaining.

Several global trends are creating the need for job creation on a global scale, while also providing new opportunities for labour markets.

Diverging labour market outcomes and labour migration

Labour market outcomes are diverging. Some high-income countries face labour shortages, while a range of low- and middle-income countries face suboptimal employment levels. These outcomes are compounded by demographic change. Populations in many developing and emerging economies are expanding, creating the need for new jobs for young talent to move into. On the other hand, many high-income economies are rapidly ageing and experiencing tight labour markets. Labour migration can be one solution to address unemployment in some areas and labour shortages in others, but leaders need to be sure this leads to positive regional and sub-regional labour market outcomes. Alternatively, increasing accessibility to digital systems, alongside increasing acceptance of teamwork with colleagues who are not co-located, could enable more globalized talent value chains. This would enable greater job creation in regions that currently have less employment and growing working age populations.

Job displacement and reallocation

One of the biggest issues driving the need for global job creation is job displacement and reallocation within countries and industries, largely caused by adoption of new and frontier technology and the green transition. According to the World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2023, more than half of employers expect technology to drive job growth and over 20% expect it to drive job displacement. Equally, the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that green investments could result in net job creation of 8.4 million jobs in the coming years. Leaders need to ensure that the new jobs created due to these trends are good jobs, and that workers are supported into new roles.

The AI transition in the jobs market

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Generative Intelligence (GenAI) will have a large impact on labour markets in the coming years. GenAI in particular, with its ability to conduct advanced analysis, create original content and perform tasks with near-human accuracy, will shape a new direction for labour markets, creating new jobs previously unimagined while also leaving some roles at risk of automation. This has opened new doors for job seekers, employers and economies in general, but policymakers and employers need to ensure that GenAI is deployed carefully and in consultation with workers.

To address employment gaps, increase economic opportunities and facilitate the transition of new talent into jobs, leaders should consider the following actions:

Support for SMEs and entrepreneurs

In economies of the Global South, where job creation is most urgently needed, micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises account for 70% of employment. But starting an enterprise and growing it into an enterprise that creates jobs is often difficult. Supporting small businesses to grow is key to unlocking more job opportunities. Collective action and partnerships can support growth and resilience of SMEs through training for entrepreneurs, connecting entrepreneurs to suppliers, markets and financing, and creating a more supportive ecosystem for entrepreneurship.

Access to and investment in infrastructure

Investing in infrastructure, such as transport and communications technology, is vital to creating the conditions for new employment opportunities. Not only does it enable direct job creation through the creation of new projects, but improved physical and digital connectivity increases access to job opportunities. Governments and businesses should invest efficiently, equitably, strategically and adequately to boost job opportunities that provide lasting value, and ensure investment plans include an element of capacity building to ensure the sustainability of new projects.

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International trade

Global trade can be an engine for global job creation, spurring economic growth and revitalizing industries by enabling companies to tap into larger markets and increase demand for goods and services. This increased demand enables the expansion of businesses, which increases local employment. However, trade can lead to higher job churn and, in some instances, lower wages. Governments should ensure that industries affected by trade shocks have access to training programmes that prepare workers for a globalized economy and social safety nets to protect workers during a time of transition.

Upskilling, new skilling, reskilling and lifelong learning

In order to ensure labour force resilience and adaptability amid the backdrop of a rapidly changing world of work, it is vital that workers also become continuous learners. Development of human capital through upskilling, new skilling, reskilling and lifelong learning is central to equipping workers to meet industry demands, bolstering new markets, helping economies transition from being informal to formal, and enabling sustainable development. But limited access to quality skills training is a common barrier of skills growth, particularly for marginalized groups. Removing these barriers is crucial to fostering a more skilled, inclusive and empowered global workforce.

Read the full briefing paper from the Global Future Council on the Future of Job Creation here. Access the Strategic Intelligence Transformation map on Job Creation here.

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