COVID-19 and the Fourth Industrial Revolution have caused a double disruption to jobs.
According to the new Future of Jobs Report, 85 million jobs will be displaced across 26 countries by 2025, while 97 million will be added.
To protect workers, companies and governments must ensure social safety nets, provide reskilling and upskilling, embrace ESG and focus on employee well-being.
For years, the technological changes of the Fourth Industrial Revolution have ushered us closer and closer to the future of work, as emerging technologies automated work processes in some roles and industries and created new opportunities in others. The COVID-19 pandemic has sped up that transformation.

The future of jobs is almost here.

COVID-19 has upended economic activity around the world, causing spikes in unemployment in many economies and deepening inequalities across economies and societies. To put it into historical context, the pandemic has destroyed more jobs in two months than the Great Recession in the United States did in two years.

The World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020 finds that more than 80% of employers expect to make wider use of remote work and to digitize work processes. About half of all employers are also preparing to automate some work. Unless more is done to invest in growth jobs and sectors we may be heading for a jobless recovery. Data from our partners show that those who are currently being displaced from the labour market are on average more likely to be female, younger and have a lower wage.

Now in its third edition, the report finds that job creation will continue to outpace job destruction but the rate of job creation slowing down while the rate of job destruction is speeding up. More than 85 million jobs in medium and large businesses will likely be displaced across 15 industries and 26 countries by 2025. In just five years the amount of time spent on tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal.

At the same time, we find that by 2025, we could see the emergence of 97 million new roles that are adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines and algorithms in emerging industries, such as data and AI, as well as sales, marketing and content roles.

The workplace itself is changing, as well, with a rise in remote working, necessitated by the spread of COVID-19. Employers hope to enable remote work across 44% of their workforce, but data shows that invariably not all workers can work remotely, and this possibility varies by countries’ income level and scale of digital penetration. The future of work is likely to be underpinned by hybrid working approaches. While this emerging marketplace for remote and hybrid work offers potential to redefine what it means to work, it largely pertains to the online, white-collar workforce who have Internet access and the ability to perform jobs from home.

In the face of these unprecedented shocks and underlying long-term structural shifts, government and business leaders must take immediate action to support those who are out of work now or are likely to be most affected by these trends in the future.

The double disruption of automation and the pandemic has made it painfully clear: we cannot afford to wait any longer for a reskilling revolution.