the future of jobs: world economic forum

WEF Future of jobs report


the fourth industrial revolution

the phrase the 'fourth industrial revolution' was first introduced by klaus schwab, founder of the world economic forum in 2015 in an article on foreign affairs.

for a while now, we’ve been at the brink of the fourth industrial revolution. which although seemingly similar, is significantly different, from the revolutions that preceded it.

the first industrial revolution was a period when mostly agrarian, rural societies became industrial and urban. this change was brought on by the use of water and steam to mechanise production.

the second harnessed electric power, giving birth to mass production, the invention of the telephone, light, the light bulb and the internal combustion engine.

the third industrial revolution was the digital revolution – the utilisation of electronics and information technology to automate production. here’s where we saw the invention of the personal computer, the internet, and information and communications technology.


key differences between now and earlier revolutions:

while the fourth industrial revolution, takes the third digital revolution further. its differences lie in:

(a) the pace of change – which is exponential rather than linear 

(b) the nature of changes which affect us in far more fundamental ways than before; “more than changing what we do, it changes us” says klaus schwab, founder of the world economic forum

(c) connections between seemingly unrelated systems – biologists finding alternatives to plastics, better asset management in business impacting the environment

all in all, it seems like we're about to enter...


a whole new world

...and it’s a very exciting time to be alive!

we’re at the cusp of so many changes, that now miraculously even seem possible - to mention just a few:

  • a circular economy making industry more sustainable
  • getting rid of plastics forever
  • clean energy all over the world with an integrated sustainable grid
  • cures for paralysis
  • basic income providing enough for the needs of every human on the planet being met... 

we can begin to see how the fourth industrial revolution will significantly impact nearly every single industry that we know of today, apart from creating new industries and... wiping out some existing ones.


but with change comes uncertainty… even fear

65% of jobs kids

65% of children entering primary school today (fig. from 2016) will ultimately end up working in jobs that don’t yet exist.

in this scenario, one wonders what should we even be teaching our kids? does the traditional schooling system cut it anymore?

these are the questions that the WEF seeks to answer in their first report in 2016, and in their more recent 2018 report here.

quoting from the 2018 report about its purpose, “the inherent opportunities for economic prosperity, societal progress and individual flourishing in this new world of work are enormous, yet depend crucially on the ability of all concerned stakeholders to instigate reform in education and training systems, labour market policies, business approaches to developing skills, employment arrangements and existing social contracts.”

while the link to the entire report is given below, we thought we'd share one set of numbers on the future of skills highlighted as part of the report below - 


key skills highlighted for future jobs 

even as early as 2022, shifts in skill requirements will be seen, according to the report. moving away from manual work, memory, management, even reading/writing and math to analytical thinking, innovation, active learning and creativity. 

2022 skills outlook WEF


read the entire report here:

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