The future of work

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 May, 2023 at 12:41 pm by Andre Camilleri

Silvan Mifsud is director of Advisory at EMCS Tax & Advisory. Mr Mifsud is also a Council Member of The Malta Chamber

Netflix just launched a few series presented by none other than Barack Obama entitled “Working: What We Do All Day”. It gives true insights as to the inequalities that still plague America today, with around 50% of the American workforce doing the low-skilled and low paid jobs.

As a global reality, at this precise moment, we have a split in how labour markets are functioning in the world. On one hand, advanced countries are experiencing a tight labour market, whilst developing countries continue to see higher unemployment than before the pandemic. The inflationary pressures that the whole world is being effected by, is also having its negative effects on real wages, whilst many employees are becoming more concerned on the quality of life that they are living.

Reviewing the latest “Future of Jobs Report” just issued by the World Economic Forum, outlines a number of key trends, which everyone, be you an employee, an employer or a policymaker should take note of.  

Technology adoption will remain a key driver of business transformation in the next five years. Moreover, a broader application of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards within business organisations will also have a significant impact on jobs. This means that the largest job creation will be driven by investments that facilitate the green transition of businesses and the broader application of ESG standards and supply chains becoming more localised. Moreover, technological advancement through increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and increased digital access are also expected to drive job growth. This job growth will be partially offset by jobs lost mainly due technological advancement. In the shorter term there are also other reasons that could destroy jobs, these being slower economic growth, supply shortages and the rising cost of inputs.

The fastest-growing future job roles will be by in the areas of technology, digitalisation and sustainability, with the majority of the fastest growing roles being technology related job roles. AI and Machine Learning Specialists top the list of fast-growing jobs, followed by Sustainability Specialists, Business Intelligence Analysts and Information Security Analysts. On the sustainability front, Renewable Energy Engineers, Solar Energy Installation and System Engineers are also fast-growing roles, as economies shift towards renewable energy.

On the other hand, the fastest declining roles going forward will also be due to the drive of technology and digitalisation. Hence the majority of fastest declining roles will be clerical or secretarial roles, Bank Tellers and Related Clerks, Postal Service Clerks, Cashiers and Ticket Clerks and Data Entry Clerks. Large job losses are also expected in administrative roles and in traditional security, factory and commerce roles, including record keeping and administrative roles like bookkeeping and payroll clerks.

Other area of job growth is Education. Jobs in the Education industry are expected to grow especially in the areas of Vocational Education Teachers and University and Higher education Teachers.

This leads me to the last but very important point on Skills. The report mentions that Analytical thinking and creative thinking will likely be the most important skills for workers going forward, with analytical thinking already being considered a core skill by many employers. Beyond these two skills other important skills that present and future jobs will require are resilience, flexibility and agility; motivation and self-awareness; curiosity and lifelong learning; dependability and attention to detail; technological literacy; empathy & active listening and leadership & social influence.

The report outlines, that this means that the highest priority for skills training, by employers, in the next 5 – 10 years will be on analytical and creative thinking, followed by training workers to utilize AI and big data and then also training workers in the areas of leadership & social influence, resilience, flexibility & agility and curiosity & lifelong learning.

In conclusion, I strongly believe that from all this we need to derive two very important condierations. Firstly, that the above mentioned skills need to be given a new focus through our education system. The days whereby our education system focuses purely on technical skills linked to yesteryear jobs are well over. Secondly, that employers need to heavily invest to train their workforce on the above listed skills, to remain competitive and relevant in the market they operate in. There is also available funding for such training.

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