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The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030

This report maps out how employment is likely to change in the future - including the implications for skills - and anticipates a number of new occupations

This report maps out how employment is likely to change in the future - including the implications for skills - and anticipates a number of new occupations.

Key findings

  • Around one-tenth of the workforce are in occupations that are likely to grow as a percentage of the workforce and round one-fifth are in occupations that will likely shrink.
  • Education, healthcare, and wider public sector occupations are likely to grow while some low-skilled jobs, in fields like construction and agriculture, are less likely to suffer poor labor market outcomes than has been assumed in the past.
  • The report highlights the skills that are likely to be in greater demand in the future, which include interpersonal skills, higher-order cognitive skills, and systems skills.
  • We also identify how the skills make up of different occupations can be altered to improve the odds that they will be in higher demand in the future.
  • The future workforce will need broad-based knowledge in addition to the more specialised skills that will are needed for specific occupations.

Recent debates about the future of jobs have mainly focused on whether or not they are at risk of automation. Studies have generally minimized the potential effects of automation on job creation, and have tended to ignore other relevant trends, including globalisation, population aging, urbanisation, and the rise of the green economy.

In this study we used a novel and comprehensive mixed method approach to map out how employment is likely to change and the implications for skills. We show both what we can expect and where we should be uncertain; highlighting likely dynamics in different parts of the labour market — from sectors like food and health to manufacturing.

The study challenges the false alarmism that contributes to a culture of risk aversion and holds back technology adoption, innovation, and growth; this matters particularly to countries like the US and the UK, which already face structural productivity problems.

By identifying the bundles of skills, abilities, and knowledge that are most likely to be important in the future, as well as the skills investments that will have the greatest impact on occupational demand, we provide information that educators, businesses, and governments can use for strategic and policymaking purposes to better prepare us for the future.

Authors

Philippe Schneider

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Hasan Bakhshi

Centre Director, Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre (PEC); and Executive Director, Creative Economy and Data Analytics, Nesta

Hasan oversees Nesta's creative economy policy, research and practical work.

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