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Tech jobs are on the rise, but soft skills are most coveted, says WEF | Computer Weekly

Tech jobs are on the rise, but soft skills are most coveted, says WEF | Computer Weekly

A majority of the top 10 jobs people believe will be the fastest growing over the next five years are technology roles, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The World Economic Forum’s Future of jobs report 2023, which tracks the labour market including declining and emerging roles, found that employers believe artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning specialists will be the fastest growing roles between now and 2027.

Saadia Zahidi, managing director of the World Economic Forum, said in the report: “In 2023, labour-market transformations driven by technological breakthroughs, such as the coming of age of generative artificial intelligence (AI), are being compounded by economic and geopolitical disruptions and growing social and environmental pressures.

“After widespread instability in the last three years across the world of work, we hope the outlook provided in this report will contribute to an ambitious multistakeholder agenda to better prepare workers, businesses, governments, educators and civil society for the disruptions and opportunities to come, and empower them to navigate these social, environmental and technological transitions.”

Technology is increasingly becoming an important part of work and life. The rapid adoption of technology over the past 10 years has meant a majority of firms are now technology-focused, requiring workers with varying levels of technology savvy.

The WEF Future of jobs report 2023 surveyed 803 companies across 27 industries and 45 economies, and found more than 85% of companies claimed that the rise in adoption of digital technologies will be a driver for transformation for them.

This, in turn, will be a driver for increasing job roles – with tech adoption cited as a key driver for both job creation and elimination in the next five years, but ultimately ending in an increase in positions.

More than half of the companies asked said that increased access to digital and the adoption of new and emerging technologies will increase jobs, although a fifth said this will end up with job displacement.

The only non-tech related roles included in the list of the predicted top 10 fastest growing jobs over the next five years were sustainability specialist – which held the second position below AI and machine learning experts – and agricultural equipment operators.

The other eight jobs predicted to be the fastest growing were all tech-related, including roles in big data, robotics, data science, and information security.

Employers are already struggling to find people with the tech skills they need to fill roles, in some cases leaving firms blaming skills shortages for difficulties implementing digital transformation.

Technology labour shortages were reported in more than 50 economies in Europe in 2022, but the WEF also found tech is estimated to have a positive impact on the job market over the next five years, with technologies such as big data, encryption and cyber all expected to drive job growth.

But even with technology adoption and roles on the rise, soft skills are still some of the most important skills to companies – analytical and creative thinking are considered “core skills” for organisations, closely followed by resilience, flexibility and agility, and motivation/self-awareness.

Technological literacy appeared sixth on the list of the top 10 most important skills for 2023, although skills gaps and a lack of talented workers is still a top barrier for transformation.

Many have feared that automation would end up replacing them in the workplace, with Forrester predicting that 12 million jobs will be automated by 2040.

The WEF said almost a quarter of jobs are estimated to change over the next five years, with clerical and secretarial roles some of the fastest declining, and it’s due to tech and digitisation.

But automation is not as much of a threat as first thought – when looking at automation within their organisations, businesses estimated that around 34% of their tasks were automated, only a 1% rise since 2020.

This is behind the WEF’s expected curve. In 2020, the survey predicted 47% of business tasks would be automated in the next five years, whereas this year’s survey found businesses now expect only 42% of business tasks to be automated by 2027.

Job creation as a result of technology adoption is predicted to outstrip any role losses caused by digital technologies, with WEF estimating around two million digital commerce roles including e-commerce, transformation and marketing specialists to develop over the next five years.

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