Each technology adapts to a different type of work and has different implications depending on the work to be done, as described in the table below. Automate onboarding management Adopt automation for social media hiring. Even when workers are displaced, the demand for work and, consequently, for jobs will increase. We develop scenarios for labor demand up to 2030 based on several factors that catalyze labor demand, such as increasing revenues, increasing spending on healthcare, and continuing or increasing investment in the development and deployment of infrastructure, energy and technology.
These scenarios showed an additional labor demand range of between 21 and 33 percent of the global workforce (555 million and 890 million jobs) between now and 2030, which would more than compensate for the number of jobs lost. Some of the biggest gains will be recorded in emerging economies, such as India, where the working-age population is already growing rapidly. Additional economic growth, due to, among other things, business dynamism and increased productivity, will also continue to create jobs. Many other new occupations will also emerge that we currently cannot imagine and that could represent up to 10 percent of the jobs created between now and 2030, if history is any guide.
In addition, technology itself has historically been a net creator of employment. For example, the introduction of the personal computer in the 1970s and 1980s created millions of jobs not only for semiconductor manufacturers, but also for developers of software and applications of all kinds, customer service representatives, and information analysts. While, by most of our assumptions, we anticipate that there will be enough work to ensure full employment by 2030, the transitions that will accompany the adoption of automation and AI will be significant. The mix of occupations will change, as will the educational and qualification requirements.
Work will need to be redesigned to ensure that people work alongside machines in the most effective way. Automation will accelerate the change in required workforce skills that we have seen over the past 15 years. The demand for advanced technological skills, such as programming, will grow rapidly. Higher social, emotional, and cognitive skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, and complex information processing, will also experience increasing demand.
The demand for basic digital skills has been increasing, and that trend will continue and accelerate. Demand for physical and manual skills will decline, but it will remain the most important category of workforce skills in 2030 in many countries (graphic). This will put additional pressure on the existing workforce skills challenge, as well as on the need for new accreditation systems. While some innovative solutions are emerging, solutions that are up to the challenge will be needed.
Our research suggests that, in an intermediate scenario, about 3 percent of the global workforce will have to change their occupational category between now and 2030, although the assumptions range from 0 to 14 percent. Some of these changes will occur within companies and sectors, but many will occur across sectors and even geographies. Occupations consisting of physical activities in highly structured environments or in the processing or collection of data will decrease. Growing occupations will include those with activities that are difficult to automate, such as managers, and those that perform in unpredictable physical environments, such as plumbers.
Other occupations where the demand for work will increase include teachers, nursing assistants, and technology and other professionals. Ultimately, automation is a tool to support workers, not to replace them. It opens up time and resources for people to do “human things” that computers aren't designed to do, such as having thoughtful conversations, building relationships, and being creative.