By now, it’s long been clear that the future of work will include an assist from our robot friends. More ominously, according to a new report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF), 1.4 million US jobs will be disrupted by technology and other factors between now and 2026.
So will robots take your job? The disruptions are expected to affect both highly specialized and highly generalist roles, from administrative and clerical to sales and finance related jobs. The people who will do best are those who have “hybrid” skills like collaboration and critical thinking, as well as deeper expertise in specific areas.
Unsurprisingly, most executives are apprehensive about the changes. The Conference Board’s C-Suite Challenge 2018 discovered that creating new business models because of disruptive technologies is among the top concerns of today’s CEOs. That’s also true for the rest of the C-Suite, including CHROs and CFOs.
Moving into new roles
The good news, according to WEF research, is that 95% of the workers most at risk would find good-quality, higher wage work if they had adequate reskilling. At-risk workers who retrain for two years could receive an average annual salary increase of $15,000—and companies would be able to find talent for jobs that might otherwise go unfilled. That’s good news for C-suite executives, whose top concern, per the Conference Board report, was attracting and retaining the right talent.
“The only limiting factor on a world of opportunities for people is the willingness of leaders to make investments in re-skilling that will bridge workers onto new jobs. This report shows that this investment has very high returns for businesses as well as economies—and ensures that workers find a purpose in their lives,” commented Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the WEF.
Gig work: The other big force for disruption
The second major trend that’s poised to shape the future of work is the rise of the gig economy. Fewer than half of CHROs surveyed by the Conference Board believe their workforces in the next three to five years will be comprised predominantly of traditional, full-time employees. Instead, companies will rely on highly skilled freelance knowledge workers and other on-demand resources. In fact, nearly 80% of CHROs foresee greater use of contingent non-traditional employees.
Leah Hoffmann is BTG's Marketing & Content Strategist. A former journalist, Leah worked for Forbes.com and The Economist before joining BTG. She is passionate about clear thinking, sharp writing, and strong points of view.