As the world goes gaga over artificial intelligence (AI) innovations like ChatGPT and hundreds of other emerging technologies, the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) survey predicts that 14 million jobs will be lost worldwide over the next five years.
The WEF report titled 'Future of Jobs Report 2023' says employers anticipate a structural labour market churn of 23% of jobs in the next five years.
This can be interpreted as an aggregate measure of disruption, constituting a mixture of emerging jobs added and declining jobs eliminated.
The survey respondents expect a higher-than-average churn in the supply chain and transportation and media, entertainment, and sports industries, and a lower-than-average churn in manufacturing as well as retail and wholesale of consumer goods.
"Of the 673 million jobs reflected in the dataset in this report, respondents expect structural job growth of 69 million jobs and a decline of 83 million jobs. This corresponds to a net decrease of 14 million jobs or 2% of current employment," says the WEF.
The WEF's survey was conducted in late 2022 and early 2023, collecting a perspective of 803 companies – collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers – across 27 industry clusters and 45 economies from all world regions.
Technology adoption will remain a key driver of business transformation in the next five years, says the report. Over 85% of companies surveyed identify increased adoption of new technologies and broadening digital access as the trends most likely to drive transformation.
Broader application of environmental, social, and governance standards within their companies will also have a significant impact. "The next most-impactful trends are macroeconomic: the rising cost of living and slow economic growth."
The largest job creation and destruction effects come from environmental, technology, and economic trends, it says, adding the strongest net job-creation effect will be driven by investments that facilitate the green transition of businesses, the broader application of ESG standards, and supply chains becoming more localised.
Within technology adoption, big data, cloud computing and AI feature highly on the likelihood of adoption. " More than 75% of companies are looking to adopt these technologies in the next five years," finds the WEF survey.
The survey reveals the impact of most technologies on jobs is expected to be a net positive over the next five years, and that large-scale job growth is expected in education, agriculture, and digital commerce, and trade. "Jobs in the education industry are expected to grow by about 10%, leading to 3 million additional jobs...agricultural professionals are expected to see an increase of around 30%, leading to an additional 3 million jobs," the survey adds.
Six in 10 workers will require training before 2027, but only half of the workers are seen to have access to adequate training opportunities today. It also predicts that a majority of companies will prioritise women (79%), youth under 25 (68%), and those with disabilities (51%) as part of their DEI programmes.