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The COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns and related global recession of 2020 have created a highly uncertain outlook for the labour market and accelerated the arrival of the future of work. This report aims to shed light on:

(1) the pandemic-related disruptions thus far in 2020, contextualised within a longer history of economic cycles, and

(2) the expected outlook for technology adoption jobs and skills in the next five years.

Despite the currently high degree of uncertainty, the report uses a unique combination of qualitative and quantitative intelligence to expand the knowledge base about the future of jobs and skills. It aggregates the views of business leaders—chief executives, chief strategy officers and chief human resources officers–on the frontlines of decision-making regarding human capital with the latest data from public and private sources to create a clearer picture of both the current situation and the future outlook for jobs and skills. The report also provides in-depth information for 15 industry sectors and 26 advanced and emerging countries.

Key findings:

  • The pace of technology adoption is expected to remain unabated and may accelerate in some areas.
  • Automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, is creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers.
  • Although the number of jobs destroyed will be surpassed by the number of ‘jobs of tomorrow’ created, in contrast to previous years, job creation is slowing while job destruction accelerates.
  • Skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years.
  • The future of work has already arrived for a large majority of the online white-collar workforce.
  • In the absence of proactive efforts, inequality is likely to be exacerbated by the dual impact of technology and the pandemic recession.
  • Online learning and training is on the rise but looks different for those in employment and those who are unemployed.
  • The window of opportunity to re-skill and up-skill workers has become shorter in the newly constrained labour market.
  • The public sector needs to provide stronger support for re-skilling and up-skilling for at-risk or displaced workers


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