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Future of Jobs: what are the skills for (surviving at work) tomorrow?

Par : Carolina Tomaz
21 February 2019
Temps de lecture : 5 min

The changing nature of work is one of the most worrying and debated subjects in digital transformation. What will the consequences of digitisation and AI be when combined with other structural trends like ecological transitioning and globalisation? How are our jobs already changing? What skills are most in demand? How should businesses plan their changing HR needs? The HUB Institute takes stock.


The advance of artificial intelligence, the dawn of 5G, the rise of cloud architectures, and the exponential amount of data to analyse... that's enough to be going on with. If they want their business to progress, companies obviously need to grab hold of these technologies and figure out how they can transform their markets. But decision-makers also need to focus on one of the most crucial questions posed by digital transformation: how to integrate their workforce with machines.

By 2025 more than half of work tasks will be done by machines.

In the report Future of Work 2018, the HUB Institute notes that the introduction of AI has mostly taken the form of automating certain tasks, especially the most repetitive, allowing the focus to shift to higher value-added tasks. AI can analyse a much larger amount of data than humans, and can manage complex situations, thus guiding humans to better decision-making. True, some jobs will tend to disappear in favour of automation. But in many cases AI will simply supplement tasks done by humans. To remain employable, humans will have to learn to work with machines, or else work in areas where humans are still better than artificial intelligence.

In its 2018 report The Future of Jobs, the World Economic Forum studies 12 business sectors in 20 developed and emerging economies to understand the impact of new technology on employment. The international organisation has calculated the impact of current upheavals on our working practices: by 2025, more than half of all tasks currently done in the workplace will be carried out by machines and algorithms, as against 29% today.

Despite this climate of major disruption, the balance between job creation and elimination will be positive: 133 million new jobs will arise by 2022 versus 75 million affected by the changing division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms. The Davos Forum estimates that today's emerging new professions promoted by the new technologies should grow from 16% to 27% of workforce in the world's big companies. Conversely, job roles hit by technological obsolescence should fall from 31% to 21%.

So what are the jobs and skills of the future?

Look out for a growing demand for jobs based directly on the new technologies, or those that take full advantage of them. In our Future of Work 2018 HUBREPORT, our experts highlight the top 5 emerging jobs by 2022: data analyst / data scientist, AI and machine learning specialist, general and operations manager, software and applications developer/analyst, and sales and marketing professional. On the other hand, jobs in global decline will be those in administration, accounting, management, payroll, office and PA secretarial, and manual. Paradoxically the jobs which benefit most from human expertise and qualities like empathy will be more in demand.

With new jobs come new skills... And the organisations in pole position, when it comes to preparing employees for adaptation to future jobs, will be those already possessing a strong training culture.

The skills most in demand by 2022 will be:

  • analytical and innovative thinking,

  • active training and training strategies,

  • creativity, originality and initiative,

  • technology design and programming,

  • critical and analytical outlook

Long-term learners

It's not about jobs disappearing so much as jobs transforming. Technical progress requires job roles that are more and more qualified and multipurpose, able to adapt continually, and this implies the long-term development of new skills and qualifications.

According to the World Economic Forum, employees will on average need 101 days for retraining and up-skilling by 2022.

The challenge for workers is to develop their employability and find a place in the job market, the challenge for companies is to overcome the skills deficit and prepare for the coming of AI, while the big challenge for everyone is agility and the ability to adapt to digital transformation - in other words, it's all about training.

HR professionals know this very well: for 58% of them in Europe, professional training is a responsibility shared between the company and the employee. Instead of gambling on immediate skills, creating an environment conducive to learning is becoming a strategic challenge: according to European HR managers, the three top skills to acquire are agility and adaptability, learning to learn, and efficient working time management. On the other hand, continuous training is demanded by employees: 53% of European employees would be prepared to pay for their own training and 79% to train outside working hours.

According to Davos, employees will on average need 101 days for retraining and up-skilling by 2022. The skills deficit, both among the self-employed and senior management, has become a risk factor in business transformation and development. Depending on the sector and the location, between half and two-thirds of organisations will undoubtedly need to rely on external workers, either temporary or freelance, to make up for deficiencies in certain skill areas.

Businesses therefore need to approach these fundamental trends proactively through a global policy of skills acquisition and development, retraining of staff affected by changes, and workforce planning.

Planning, a proactive approach to new HR challenges in companies

There are planning tools and methods to help companies prepare better for these changes. The Employment and Expertise Plan (EEP) evaluates the skills necessary to carry out the company strategy. EEP comes with a legal obligation since the French law on social cohesion of 2005, whereby companies with more than 300 staff must hold negotiations on the subject at least every three years. The others can get state assistance to create their EEP. EEP integrates into and optimises the company training plan. Another method is Strategic Workforce Planning, which aims to analyse the strategic objectives of the company, anticipate their effects on operations and plan the necessary resources, both in quantity and quality.

Identifying critical skills for the company's future, the availability of know-how, the ability to attract talent, workforce location, etc. Setting up these practices can help businesses bring proactive and positive approaches to bear on the big HR challenges introduced by the fourth industrial revolution.

Article originally published in the HUB Review 2019, the review of the business transformation, to download here to download here.

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Head of Content

Carolina Tomaz is Head of Content at HUB Institute.

With 18 years of experience in the digital world, new uses and innovation, she benefits from an experience developed since year 2000 at the Libertysurf service provider, then at the TF1 group where she held various positions - always at the crossroads of editing, marketing, business and digital transformation. 

After serving as the content director of Frenchweb, pure-player of B2B information specialising in technology and innovation, she...

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