Our respondents report that a tangible impact of many of these disruptions on the adequacy of employees’ existing skill sets can already be felt in a wide range of jobs and industries today (Figure 8B).During previous industrial revolutions, it has often taken decades to build the training systems and labour market institutions needed to develop major new skill sets on a large scale.
Governments, businesses and individuals alike are increasingly concerned with identifying and forecasting skills that are relevant not just today but that will remain or become so in the future to meet business demands for talent and enable those that possess them to seize emerging opportunities.
In light of technological trends such as the ones outlined in this Report, in recent years many countries have undertaken significant efforts to increase the amount of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates produced by their national education systems (Table 8A).
At an industry level, the highest expected level of skills stability over the 2015–2020 period is found in the Media, Entertainment and Information sector, already profoundly transformed in recent years, while the largest amount of skills disruption is expected to occur in the Financial Services & Investors industry.
There are various reasons for such dramatic shifts in expected skills requirements.
For example, the increasing ubiquity of mobile internet combined with the coming-of-age of the Internet of Things promises to transform the daily routine of many frontline roles in the Sales and Related, Installation and Maintenance, and Manufacturing and Production job families across all industries, requiring a much higher level of technology literacy than in the past.
As an ancillary characteristic to increased automation in these fields, employees are expected to have more responsibilities related to equipment control and maintenance and problem-solving skills, as well as a broader general understanding of the work processes of their company or organization.Many formerly purely technical occupations are expected to show a new demand for creative and interpersonal skills.For healthcare practitioners, for example, technological innovations will allow for increasing automation of diagnosis and personalization of treatments, redefining many medical roles towards translating and communicating this data effectively to patients.However, along with the impact of disruptive changes on these sectors, it is anticipated that complex problem solving skills will become somewhat less important in industries that are heavily technical today—such as Basic and Infrastructure and Energy—in which technology may automate and take on a bigger part of these complex tasks going forward, and will ascend in those industries, such as Professional Services and Information and Communication Technology, that are expected to become more complex and analytical due to these trends.Overall, social skills—such as persuasion, emotional intelligence and teaching others—will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills, such as programming or equipment operation and control.Focusing on a core set of 35 work-relevant skills and abilities that are widely used across all industry sectors and job families (see Figure 9)—derived from the same classification as our occupation-level data—the Report finds that these practical skills, too, will be subject to accelerating change and significant disruption in the immediate future.On average, by 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will be comprised of skills that are not yet considered crucial to the job today, according to our respondents.Content skills (which include ICT literacy and active learning), cognitive abilities (such as creativity and mathematical reasoning) and process skills (such as active listening and critical thinking) will be a growing part of the core skills requirements for many industries.If skills demand is evolving rapidly at an aggregate industry level, the degree of changing skills requirements within individual job families and occupations is even more pronounced (Figure 10).Our dataset allows us some generalized observations about the impact of various disruptive changes on skills demand at an aggregate industry level.With regard to the overall scale of demand for various skills in 2020, more than one third (36%) of all jobs across all industries are expected by our respondents to require complex problem-solving as one of their core skills, compared to less than 1 in 20 jobs (4%) that will have a core requirement for physical abilities such as physical strength or dexterity.