Up to 7.1 million jobs will be wiped out in 15 major economies during a fourth industrial revolution, as disruptive developments in artificial intelligence and machine-learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3-D printing, and genetics and biotechnology come to the fore, says the World Economic Forum.
The rapid advance in technological innovation will cause widespread disruption not only to business models but also to labour markets over the next five years, with enormous change predicted in the skill sets needed to thrive in the new landscape, says the organisation, in a new report based on a survey of chief human resources officers and top strategy executives from companies across 15 of the world's largest economies.
In terms of overall impact, the report indicates that the nature of change over the next five years is such that as many as 7.1 million jobs could be lost through redundancy, automation or disintermediation, with the greatest losses in white-collar office and administrative roles. This loss is predicted to be partially offset by the creation of 2.1 million new jobs in tech-heavy “job families”, defined as computer and mathematical or architecture and engineering.
Healthcare is expected to experience the greatest negative impact in terms of jobs in the next five years, followed jointly by energy and financial services and investors.
As new technologies make “anytime, anywhere” work possible, companies are breaking up tasks in new ways, leading to a fragmentation of jobs across many industries. These effects are further compounded by the rise of mobile internet and cloud technology, enabling the rapid spread of internet-based service models.
Drivers of change will have a disparate affect within specific industries, says the WEF. For financial services firms, processing power and big data, alongside the rising middle class and consumer ethics and privacy issues are seen as having the biggest impact.
Skills instability is expected to be particularly pronounced in financial services where 43% of the top skills needed across the industry are expected to change by 2020. A strong demand for architecture and engineering and computer and mathematical job families, will be counterbalanced by a moderate decline in manufacturing and production roles and a significant decline in office and administrative roles.
Data analysts, which companies expect will help them make sense of the torrent of data generated by the forthcoming technological disruptions, will be particularly prized.
States the report: "Momentous change is under way and, ultimately, it is our actions today that will determine whether that change mainly results in massive displacement of workers or the emergence of new opportunities."