Growth and Jobs for a New Era: How can government, business and civil society come together around a new economic framework to put people at the centre of a more prosperous trajectory?
Future of Work

Growth and Jobs at Davos 2024: What to know

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Growth and Jobs for a New Era: How can government, business and civil society come together around a new economic framework to put people at the centre of a more prosperous trajectory? Image: Unsplash/Evangeline Shaw

Pooja Chhabria
Digital Editor, World Economic Forum
Kate Whiting
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • 'Creating Growth and Jobs for a New Era' is one of the key themes at Davos 2024, the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, being held from 15–19 January.
  • The Meeting provides a platform for the dialogue, research and collaboration needed to avoid a decade of low growth and put people at the centre of a more prosperous trajectory.
  • Check back here for regular updates throughout the week and use the navigation bar on the right to catch up on what you've missed.

Putting people at the centre of a more prosperous growth trajectory, giving them economic opportunities, and meeting climate targets, as well as the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, all require investment, which in turn requires a strong global economy.

But amid continued economic uncertainty and geopolitical instability, global growth - measured as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - has been slower in the past decade than the ones before, and the post-pandemic recovery is slowing.

So finds the World Economic Forum's Future of Growth Report 2024, which provides an overview of global growth trends.

The Future of Growth
How the world is faring on 4 key growth dimensions Image: Future of Growth Report 2024

For the first time, this year, the report introduces the Future of Growth Framework - structured around 4 key pillars - to underscore the fact that GDP as a metric does not indicate the quality of that growth and its impact on the health of people and planet.

It finds the world is just halfway towards innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth.

"A simple 'return' to GDP growth is not enough," says Saadia Zahidi, the Forum's Managing Director for the Centre for the New Economy and Society. "Instead, each country must undertake a unique and complex journey towards achieving innovative, inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth."

The core question, as the report notes, is how the future of growth can be better aligned with other important priorities.

The World Economic Forum's newly launched Chief Economists Outlook finds a mixed picture for the coming year, with just over half of the chief economists surveyed (56%) expecting the global economy to weaken and 43% foreseeing unchanged or stronger conditions.

Global economic prospects over the coming year
More than half of chief economists surveyed expect the economy to weaken. Image: Chief Economists Outlook 2024

Meanwhile, the Forum's Global Risks Report 2024 finds that 'lack of economic opportunity' ranked as one of the top 10 biggest risks among risk experts over the next two years.

Over the longer term, barriers to economic mobility could grow, locking out large segments of the population from economic opportunities, the report found.

At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) is having an impact on jobs. The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Staff Discussion Note Gen-AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Work finds almost 40% of employment globally is exposed to AI, which rises to 60% in advanced economies.

Among workers, those that are college-educated and women are more exposed to AI, but also more likely to reap the benefits, while strong productivity gains could boost growth and wages.

Creating Growth and Jobs for a New Era is one of the core areas of discussion at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2024.

Leaders from government, business and civil society will consider the implications of recent geopolitical, industrial policy, and AI developments while discussing ways to come together around a new people-centric economic framework that avoids a decade of low growth.

Report

Chief Economists Outlook: January 2024

Live updates on key growth and jobs sessions

Here are the key quotes, tweets and YouTube clips from Davos sessions on economic growth, jobs and the future of work.

What to know from Day 2

While tackling inflation, higher interest rates have wider repercussions: slowing down growth, increasing pressure on global markets, creating debt sustainability risks and changing the nature of investment.

Gita Gopinath, First Deputy Managing Director of the IMF, joined François Villeroy de Galhau, Governor of the Central Bank of France, Chuck Robbins, Chair and CEO of Cisco Systems, Inc. and Adena Friedman, Chair and CEO of Nasdaq Inc, to discuss whether high rates were the 'new normal'.

Are interest rate cuts coming? Here’s what the IMF and other global leaders are saying at Davos 2024

Gopinath said high interest rates would likely stay higher for longer than they did after the global financial crisis, while Robbins said: "People talk about the new normal. This is the normal, we just got away from it for a very long time."

Villeroy de Galhau added: "The new normal in the future will not be the subnormal we lived through during 2015 to 2022. Or to put it in a nutshell, it will be an era of fair money probably rather than easy money, or free money. But our compass will be inflation. We have one compass and it's very important."

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Financial institutions continue to face risks from high interest rates, geopolitical tensions and ongoing price volatility. With persistent inflationary pressures and the possibility of further rate hikes, what policies and tools can protect the financial system from potential headwinds in 2024?

Nurses, teachers and care workers are essential to well-functioning economies yet most countries face current or upcoming shortages and poor social infrastructure, imposing serious constraints on growth.

Karien van Gennip, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Social Affairs and Employment of the Netherlands, said investment in education and healthcare is an investment in social cohesion: "A population that has access to those is a far more stable society."

She added that one person working in childcare means seven other parents working in other professions. We need to create pathways for people to move out of declining professions into public service jobs and to finance retraining.

Teachers are in front of the workforce, they’re at the chalk face, they’re the profession that creates all other professions.

David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International

There is a global teacher shortage of 44 million teachers, said David Edwards, General Secretary, Education International. SDG4: Quality Education is "completely off-track".

"António Guterres called for 6% of GDP to be invested in education, no country is even close... Investments in education are investments in trust, and the future."

The potential gains from closing economic gender gaps could unlock a “gender dividend” of $172 trillion for the global economy, while closing the gender investment gap could add $3 trillion to assets under management in the US alone.

Further policy and regulation is required from governments to ensure equal opportunities for women, said Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia's Minister of Finance.

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Gabriela Sommerfeld, Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, said improving gender parity would positively impact the economy worldwide.

It's so important to bring gender parity to our countries and our lives for more productivity and a better economy for everybody.

Gabriela Sommerfeld, Ecuador's Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility

This session, with Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, and Stanford University's Director of the Digital Economy Lab, Erik Brynjolfsson, delved into the trends defining the future of jobs and explores optimal policy, employer and worker responses.

AI can augment tasks, for example helping call-centre workers to become more productive and have greater job satisfaction, said Brynjolfsson.

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The outlook for the global economy in 2024 remains highly divergent, according to the World Economic Forum’s latest survey of chief economists. Join this media briefing with leading economists from around the world to discuss the emerging economic landscape and the decisions that lie ahead for policymakers in 2024 and beyond.

Our speakers presented a mixed picture for the global economy, in a wide-ranging discussion covering areas from the impact of artificial intelligence to rate cuts.

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What to know from Day 3

Resilience has become an increasing necessity for companies and governments seeking to find new routes for growth and financial strategies in uncertain times.

The Forum's President, Børge Brende, joined Odile Françoise Renaud-Basso, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Bob Sternfels, Global Managing Partner of McKinsey & Company, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Siemens Chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe and Nonkululeko Nyembezi, Chairman of the Standard Bank Group Limited to discuss how leaders can move beyond short-term responses and drive a global resilience agenda.

As a quarter of jobs are expected to change in the next five years, millions of people will need to move between declining and growing jobs.

Coursera CEO, Jeff Maggioncalda and Denis Machuel, CEO of Adecco Group AG, joined other business leaders to discuss the innovative business and policy approaches to facilitate reskilling, upskilling and job transitions.

They touched on the transferability of skills, technology creating gaps and the potential of AI to help with personalized learning and to be a work and productivity tool that could change the opportunity set for almost everybody in the world.

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Technology, sustainability and geoeconomics continue to reshape the jobs landscape in 2024, while deeply divergent patterns for talent availability emerge in developed and developing markets.

Robert Fico, the Prime Minister of Slovakia, Cina Lawson, Togo's Minister of Digital Economy and Transformation, and Aiman Ezzat, CEO of Capgemini, were among the panellists discussing the outlook for the year ahead and the priorities for governments and employers.

Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), said the labour market had show resilience in 2023, with the employment rate remaining high.

But the data also shows young people are 3.5 times more at risk of being unemployed than the rest of the adult population and many workers are struggling to pay bills.

The impact of AI on jobs was not going to be "an employment apocalypse", but he stressed that reskilling, upskilling and lifelong learning would be key to manage the transition to augmentation.

Long-standing economic tenets are being challenged by ongoing shocks, geo-economic tensions and supply chain reconfigurations. How can we adapt to changing economic realities, to ensure long-term and equitable growth?

In this interactive town hall, Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, joined Harvard professor Michael Sandel to explore promising approaches to adapt to new economic realities.

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What to know from Day 4

Amid transformative changes and challenges in the global economy, the standard monetary policy toolkit is under scrutiny. Mark Carney, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, joined other panellists to discuss how central banks can adapt and innovate to ensure they remain effective stewards of the economy.

The contemporary workplace seemingly carries contradictions – remote work as well as an impetus to return to the office, and experiments with the four-day week as well as 24/7 connectivity.

Martin Kocher, Austria's Federal Minister of Labour and Economy, joined LinkedIn's Allen Blue joined Manny Maceda, CEO of Bain & Company and Lieve Mostrey, CEO of Euroclear SA/NV to discuss what the data tells us about the relationship between flexibility and productivity and how leaders can get the balance right.

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Trade tensions threaten growth. Over the past 30 years, trade and investment have been critical drivers of prosperity.

In this session, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), joined Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People; Commissioner for Trade, European Commission, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, Brian Moynihan, Chair and CEO, Bank of America, and Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO and Managing Director, Mubadala Investment Company, to discuss how we can salvage these two growth engines and retool them for the future.

Okonjo-Iweala said we need to think about globalization differently, highlighting the importance of inclusion.

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With economic development comes prosperity, with prosperity comes stability, with stability ultimately you have peace.

Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, CEO and Managing Director, Mubadala Investment Company

With nations such as Germany, China and New Zealand starting to look beyond economic performance, how can government and business overcome divergent priorities and contested models to balance growth with their citizens’ lives, happiness and well-being as a measure of success?

Carlos Cuerpo Caballero, Spain's Minister of Economy, Trade and Enterprise, joined Sweden's Minister of Finance, Elisabeth Svantesson, Ravi Kumar, CEO, Cognizant Technology Solutions US Corp, and Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, Kearney, to discuss how to make the impact economy a reality.

Upwards social mobility is the biggest single measure of good growth, said Kumar.

In Sweden, we have 15 other things we measure besides GDP to make sure we're moving in the right direction, said Svantesson.

In order to have trust, you have to believe that the people in power are authentically committed to actual dialogue and actually solving these problems, providing these tools, providing the mobility, providing the technology, providing the safety net and sharing the joy, measuring the happiness and the sense of belonging.

Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, Kearney

What to know from Day 5

As the world transitions to a new set of geopolitical, technological, demographic and environmental conditions, volatility in the global risks landscape is set to grow and decades of investment in human and institutional resilience are being chipped away.

Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, African Union Commission and Agnes Callamard, Secretary-General, Amnesty International, joined Andrew McAfee, Co-Director and Co-Founder, MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy; Principal Research Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Douglas Peterson, President and CEO, S&P Global to discuss new ideas and approaches to ensure we are collectively prepared for emerging risks and rapid shocks.

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With the global economy at a crossroads, policy-makers must balance the need for action on growth and inflation with structural imperatives on promoting human development and ensuring an orderly energy transition.

What trade-offs and dilemmas will governments face as they seek to leverage the right economic tools and ensure sustainable, long-term growth?

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), joined Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, the President of Singapore, Mohammed Al-Jadaan, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Finance, and Christian Lindner, Federal Minister of Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany, and David Rubenstein, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, The Carlyle Group, to discuss.

Here are some of the key quotes from the session.

Al-Jadaan highlighted the importance of focusing on the medium term and adopting policies that will fuel growth.

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Okonjo-Iweala said the reshaping of supply chains and global growth is an opportunity not a challenge.

“Green trade has tripled in value to $1.9 trillion”, she said.

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Lindner spoke of a ‘new normal’ for growth, resilience and transformation: "We’ve had to reinvent the German energy infrastructure and supply in the last eighteen months."

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Lagarde explained the transition she has seen from normalization to non-normality in terms of consumption and trade.

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Reports you need to know about

  • Global Risks Report 2024

In partnership with Marsh McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, the Global Risks Report highlights findings from the Forum's annual Global Risks Perception Survey, which collates responses from 1,500 global leaders.

There is a "progressive worsening" of the outlook for the next two years and the next 10 years, said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum.

But in terms of economic risks, there is currently a positive trajectory in the short term - but in the longer term there is a divergence between developing and developed countries.

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Misinformation and disinformation is the top risk in the short term, as AI breakthroughs disrupt the risk landscape, said Carolina Klint, Chief Commercial Officer, Europe, Marsh McLennan.

"Many organizations [will struggle] to react to threats arising from misinformation, disintermediation and strategic miscalculation.

"At the same time, companies are having to negotiate supply chains made more complex by geopolitics and climate change and cyber threats from a growing number of malicious actors.

"It will take a relentless focus to build resilience at organizational, country and international levels – and greater cooperation between the public and private sectors – to navigate this rapidly evolving risk landscape.”

  • The Future of Growth Report 2024

“Reigniting global growth will be essential to addressing key challenges, yet growth alone is not enough,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum on the launch of The Future of Growth Report.

“The report proposes a new way for assessing economic growth that balances efficiency with long-term sustainability, resilience and equity, as well as innovation for the future, aligning with both global and national priorities.”

The report introduces the Future of Growth Framework, which is structured around four pillars to complement the traditional GDP metric. These are innovativeness, inclusiveness, sustainability and resilience. It also provides a Future of Growth Dashboard for each economy covered in the report, to support policymakers, academics, civil society and business leaders in assessing the balance between growth and other priorities.

Launching alongside this report is the Forum's Future of Growth initiative, a two-year endeavour aimed at charting a new narrative for economic growth.

  • Chief Economists Outlook: January 2024

The latest instalment of the quarterly Chief Economists Outlook builds on the latest policy development research as well as consultations and surveys with leading chief economists from both the public and private sectors. It sets out to summarize the current economic environment and identify priorities for leaders in response to the compounding shocks to the global economy from geo-economic and geopolitical events.

  • Putting Skills First: Opportunities for Building Efficient and Equitable Labour Markets

Six in 10 businesses say skills gaps in the local labour market are impeding their business transformation. But a 'skills-first' approach to talent recruitment and development - which looks at whether someone has the right skills and competencies for a particular role, rather than how they've acquired those skills - is one way of bridging skills gaps and easing labour shortages. The report identifies five areas of opportunity where applying skills-first approaches can generate the highest returns for workers and employers. It also provides examples of successful policies and initiatives taken by 'lighthouse' businesses, governments and educational institutions to implements a skills-first approach.

Have you read?
  • The Rise of Global Digital Jobs

Digital jobs could help to balance skill shortages in higher income countries, while boosting opportunities for younger workers in lower-income countries, finds this white paper.

By 2030, the number of global digital jobs is expected to rise to around 92 million, which are generally higher paid roles.

"If managed well, global digital jobs present an opportunity to utilize talent around the world, widening the talent pool available to employers and providing economic growth pathways to countries across the income spectrum."

High wage global digital jobs in 2030
The top-paying digital jobs in 2030 Image: The Rise of Digital Jobs

More to read on jobs and growth

Related topics:
Future of WorkDavos AgendaJobs and SkillsEconomic Progress
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Contents
Live updates on key growth and jobs sessionsWhat to know from Day 2 What to know from Day 3 What to know from Day 4What to know from Day 5Reports you need to know aboutMore to read on jobs and growth

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