The Jobs of Tomorrow: Lifelong Learning and the Future of the Jobs Market

Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

The World Economic Forum recently released its latest report, highlighting the Fourth Industrial Revolution in relation to the vast number of upcoming opportunities that will be supported through job creation. This two-part report focuses on opportunities in the emerging labor market, as well as professions of the future in focus.

In order to ensure that support the realistic development of these opportunities, a number of digital and human factors must be considered, including the specific skill sets needed to leverage emerging job opportunities. The need for lifelong learning experiences has never been more critical.

1. Upskilling and re-skilling are the common thread across all jobs of tomorrow

New job roles are being created at an unprecedented rate. However, there are many opportunities for existing workers to fill new roles based on the similarities between their existing skills and the evolving needs of emerging industries across global economies.

All industries are changing rapidly and require workers and training professionals to shift toward a lifelong learning model. No matter what job type or industry you work in, you’ll need to gain new skills to keep up with the pace of change. In doing so, new opportunities will present themselves.

There is a class of jobs. however, that the World Economic Forum report predicts will increase in demand at a significantly higher rate than others. These “jobs of tomorrow” will make up the bulk of the labor force in the next ten to twenty years.

In total, there are seven emerging professional clusters, representing 96 jobs of tomorrow within them. Anticipated growth is the largest among care roles and the smallest among green professions. Overall, the emerging professions of the future highlighted in this report account for approximately 6.1 million opportunities globally in 2020–2022.

More specifically, it is estimated that over the coming three years, 37 percent of job openings in emerging professions will be in the Care Economy, followed by 17 percent in Sales, Marketing, and Content, 16 percent in Data and AI; 12 percent in Engineering and Cloud Computing; and 8 percent in People and Culture.

Bottom line: A global reskilling revolution is needed. As jobs continue to transform, in order to support growth opportunities, more than 1 billion people will need to reskill by 2030 — and by 2022, 42 percent of core skills required to perform existing jobs are anticipated to change.

2. The transition to a skills-based training model will need to be a wholesale transformation across all companies, not an individual effort

Shifting to skills-based training can not be done by employees alone. Successfully navigating this change will require that companies, universities, and institutions make significant investments in upskilling and lifelong learning programs. For example, in-demand skills will include:

  • Business skills
  • Specialized industry skills
  • General and soft skills
  • Tech baseline skills and tech disruptive skills

Of course, specific skills will also be required depending on the industry and sector. For example, in the Care Economy, top skills include respiratory therapy, caregiving, and sterile techniques; whereas, in the Data and AI industry, the most important skills include data science, data storage technologies, development tools, etc.

The role of universities and primary education institutions under this new model would need to adapt and change in order to play a foundational role. Education in job-specific skills would fall mainly under the responsibility of companies and third-party training organizations.

Bottom line: In order to upskill a billion people across the globe, effective leadership, technology, and collaboration will be key.

3. Re-shaping hiring and HR processes based on flexible requirements and lifelong learning

The hiring process currently focuses on credentials and institutional education. This is quickly becoming an obsolete method for sourcing new talent. In order to create prosperity in the new labor market, a shift to skill-based hiring focused on lifelong learning will be critical.

Practical skills will be of the greatest value in the coming years, as the digital economy demands that all employees are skilled at adapting to change, are able to communicate with diverse groups, and are capable of proposing logical solutions to problems they personally identify.

Bottom line: Tomorrow’s hiring professionals will base their selections on flexible requirements and job skills. Because of this, the importance of university degrees and other static credentials will fade. A transition towards skills-based education and hiring will be imperative in the new economy. Companies such as IBM have already begun focusing on skills-based hiring, and skills-based education is already taking place across Europe and the rest of the world.

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