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Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Nesta's study of 41 million job adverts reveals not all digital skills will be equally valuable in the future and creativity is key.

By 2030 the job market will look dramatically different. Previous Nesta research has predicted that about 10 per cent of workers are in occupations that are likely to grow as a share of the workforce and 20 per cent will shrink. As for the remaining jobs, their outlook is more uncertain. Although unsettling, this disruption needn’t be disastrous for the workforce. There is an opportunity for employees in uncertain or shrinking occupations to improve their prospects by investing in the right skills.

Policymakers consider digital skills to be a top priority for investment. They are seen as offering people greater employability and job resiliency. But are all digital skills created equal?

The analysis shows that:

  • Occupations which we are more certain will have poor prospects are more likely to require a digital skill than the occupations that are most likely to grow by 2030.
  • There are occupations that are currently not digitally intensive, but are expected to grow in the next 10-15 years, as varied as teachers and chefs.
  • The type of digital skills needed in a job can also make a difference: the digital skills most likely to be needed in growing job sectors are ones that are used in non-routine tasks, problem-solving and the creation of digital outputs.

This is exploratory analysis that takes a novel approach. At Nesta we will continue to study the demand for skills and the future of work, which is in itself a shifting landscape.

The future workforce:

Five promising digital skills

  1. Animation
  2. Multimedia production
  3. Design in engineering
  4. Building and maintaining IT systems and networks
  5. Research and quantitative data analysis

Five of the least promising digital skills

  1. Invoice processing and management of accounts using accounting software
  2. Data input and preparation of payroll and tax reports
  3. Clerical duties (e.g. typing, using a word processor, spreadsheets, email and calendar software)
  4. Sales support and processing of orders in sales management systems
  5. Stock and inventory management using inventory control systems


Jyldyz Djumalieva

Jyldyz Djumalieva

Jyldyz Djumalieva

Data Science Technical Lead, Data Analytics Practice

Jyldyz Djumalieva was the Data Science Technical Lead working in Data Analytics

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Cath Sleeman

Cath Sleeman

Cath Sleeman

Head of Data Science, Data Science Practice


Dr Cath Sleeman is the Head of Data Science.

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