• 50% of bosses plan on replacing workers with automated systems
  • 1.7 million jobs created by 2022, compared to 984,000 eliminated
  • 54% of workers must re- or upskill by 2022

Accountants, lawyers, financial analysts, bookkeepers, and payroll clerks can all expect significant redundancies in the next few years, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The Future of Jobs Report 2018 released by the WEF last week again confirmed that advances in automation will result in a net reduction of full-time workers based on current job profiles, with 50% of companies surveyed expecting to replace staff with automated systems.

In particular, it is “routine-based, middle-skilled white-collar roles” that are most susceptible to such redundancies.

This includes data entry clerks, accounting and payroll clerks, secretaries, auditors, bank tellers, cashiers, financial analysts and telemarketers.

But a reduction in such roles does not necessarily translate to an overall reduction in employment, the report finds.

Jobs in versus jobs out

“Within the set of companies surveyed, respondents predicted a decline of 984,000 jobs and a gain of 1.74 million jobs between now and 2022,” the WEF says.

Data analysts and scientists top the list for those jobs expected to attract increased demand by 2022, with automated systems placing increased emphasis on data.

Roles “that leverage distinctly human skills”, such as customer service workers and sales and marketing specialists are also expected to see heightened demand.

The report also describes the “reskilling imperative” employees will face, with 54% of workers needing to undergo significant re- and upskilling by 2022.

This will in part be to allow workers to learn new technologies, but also to reinforce ‘human’ skills such as creativity and originality.

“It is critical that business take an active role in supporting their existing workforces through reskilling and upskilling, that individuals take a proactive approach to their own lifelong learning, and that governments create an enabling environment to facilitate this workforce transformation,” said Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab.

“This is the key challenge of our time.”

Changing how we work

As well as changing the overall number of jobs, advances in technology will also change how we work.

The total percentage of working hours spent on day-to-day tasks such as administering, identifying job-relevant information and data processing will be cut as they are outsourced by machines.

“For workers, improved productivity may allow them to re-focus their work on high-value activities that play to the distinctive strengths of being human,” the report says.

As a result, skills such as analytical thinking, innovation, creativity, originality, technology design and programming will all be trending by 2022; while manual dexterity, memory, reading, writing, math and active listening will start falling out of favour among employers.

Across industries

“The future of jobs is not singular, and disparate impacts will be felt across industries depending on initial starting conditions, skills availability, technology adoption and adaptability of the workforce,” said the WEF in a release.

Rates of displacement vary from industry to industry, with the energy utilities and technology, information and communication technologies, and financial services and investors sectors all set to benefit from technological advances.

It also predicts growth in aviation, travel and tourism, global health and healthcare, advanced materials, and biotechnology as a result of increasing affluence.

Earlier this month ACS became the first professional association in the ICT sector to be admitted into the WEF.