The future of jobs – The best and worst skills to have in South Africa

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has released its Future of Jobs 2020 report which found that COVID-19 caused the labour market to change faster than expected.

The research indicates that what used to be considered the “future of work” has already arrived and that automation and a new division of labour between humans and machines will disrupt 85 million jobs globally by 2025.

The Future of Jobs 2020 report found that:

  • More than 80% of business executives are accelerating plans to digitize work processes and deploy new technologies.
  • 50% of employers are expecting to accelerate the automation of some roles in their companies.
  • 43% of businesses are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration.
  • 41% of businesses plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work.
  • 34% of businesses plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration.

“In contrast to previous years, job creation is now slowing while job destruction is accelerating,” the WEF said.

By 2025, employers will divide work between human and machines equally, where roles that leverage human skills will rise in demand.

Machines will be primarily focused on information and data processing, administrative tasks and routine manual jobs for white- and blue-collar positions.

The most in-demand skills

As the economy and job markets evolve, 97 million new roles will emerge across the care economy, in fourth industrial revolution technology industries, and in content creation fields.

The tasks where humans are set to retain their comparative advantage include managing, advising, decision-making, reasoning, communicating, and interacting.

The WEF predicts that in 2025, analytical thinking, creativity, and flexibility will be among the top skills needed.

Data and artificial intelligence, content creation, and cloud computing are now the top emerging professions.

Other fields where there is growing demand include data analysts and scientists, AI and machine learning specialists, robotics engineers, and software and application developers.

Job roles such as process automation specialists, information security analysts, and Internet of Things specialists are also growing in demand.

At the opposite end of the scale, the roles which are set to be increasingly redundant by 2025 include data entry clerks, administrative and executive secretaries, accountants, and bookkeepers.

Other professions which will be negatively affected are payroll clerks, auditors, assembly and factory workers, as well as business services and administrative managers.

The image below (click to expand) shows the top 20 job roles in increasing and decreasing demand across industries.


Jobs in South Africa

The Future of Jobs 2020 report provided insight into the labour dynamics in South Africa, which include jobs rising in demand and those which are set to become redundant.

According to the report, process automation specialists, data analysts and scientists, and social psychologists will see a big rise in demand.

Other professions which are set for growth are management and organisation analysts, business development professionals, and big data specialists.

Fields which will be negatively affected are accounting, bookkeeping and payroll clerks, and client information and customer service workers.

The tables below provide an overview of the expected emerging and redundant jobs in South Africa.

Emerging jobs in South Africa

Redundant jobs in South Africa

Reskill workers and supporting remote working

The WEF said the for those workers set to remain in their roles in the next five years, nearly 50% will need reskilling for their core skills.

Despite the current economic downturn, most employers recognize the value of reskilling their workforce.

An average of 66% of employers surveyed expect to see a return on investment in upskilling and reskilling of current employees within one year.

They also expect to successfully redeploy 46% of workers within their own organization.

Another strong trend is remote working with 84% of employers set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote working.

Employers say there is the potential to move 44% of their workforce to operate remotely.

According to the report, 78% of business leaders expect some negative impact on worker productivity.

This suggests that some industries and companies are struggling to adapt quickly enough to the shift to remote working caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To address concerns about productivity and well-being, about one-third of all employers said they will take steps to create a sense of community, connection and belonging among their employees.

Now read: Salaries in South Africa – How much companies are paying in 2020

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The future of jobs – The best and worst skills to have in South Africa