Analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility will be among the top skills needed in 2025, while data and artificial intelligence, content creation and cloud computing will be the top emerging professions, according to ‘The Future of Jobs’ report, recently released by WEF.

Earlier data by Allianz indicated that, by as early as 2025, as much as 75% of the global workforce could be millennials, bringing a completely new set of demands and expectations on the modern workplace. And as the workforce is automating faster than expected, the most competitive organizations will be those that choose to reskill and upskill current employees, WEF now adds, which could create a whole a new discussion in shipping, an industry struggling to abandon its conventional approach of doing business.


The future of work in numbers

The Future of Jobs survey is based on the projections of senior business leaders (typically Chief Human Resource Officers and Chief Strategy Officers) representing nearly 300 global companies, which collectively employ 8 million workers. The survey identified that:

  • Automation will disrupt 85 million jobs globally by 2025, in medium and large businesses across 15 industries and 26 economies.
  • More than 80% of business executives are accelerating plans to digitize work processes and deploy new technologies.
  • 43% of businesses are set to reduce their workforce due to technology integration.
  • 41% plan to expand their use of contractors for task-specialized work.
  • 34% plan to expand their workforce due to technology integration.
  • 84% of employers are set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote working.
  • There is the potential to move 44% of their workforce to operate remotely.
  • 78% expect some negative impact on worker productivity.
  • Nearly 50% of workers set to remain in their roles will need reskilling for their core skills in the next five years.

While it remains difficult to establish the long-term consequences of the pandemic on the demand for products and services in severely affected industries, supporting workers during this transition will protect one of the key assets of any company and country— its human capital. In this new context, for the first time in recent years, job creation is starting to lag behind job destruction—and this factor is poised to affect disadvantaged workers with particular ferocity. Businesses are set to accelerate the digitalization of work processes, learning, expansion of remote work, as well as the automation of tasks within an organization.


What are the top skills for the future?

While business demand for soft skills seems to be constantly on the rise in the last decade, the report suggests the 10 most in-demand skills for the next five years are a mix of hard and soft skills:

Emotional intelligence, troubleshooting and user experience, service orientation, systems analysis and evaluation, as well as persuasion and negotiation complete the list of the top 15 skills.

The above list shows that skills gaps continue to be high as in-demand skills across jobs change in the next five years. Complex problem solving and critical thinking, which topped the WEF list for 2020, remain high in demand, shared with active learning, which reflects a rising trend of self-management skills.


What does the future hold for work equality?

Comparing the impact of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008 on individuals with lower education levels to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis, the impact today is far more significant and more likely to deepen existing inequalities,

…the WEF report suggests, while data for February-May 2020 in the US showed displaced workers were, on average, mostly female, younger and had a lower wage.

Mixed with the impact of technology, the pandemic is expected to deteriorate inequality in the workplace, an adverse condition for shipping which has a heavy legacy in gender equality, as male seafarers account for the 98% of the crew plying the world’s seas.


What does this mean for shipping?

Although pandemic restrictions have opened new opportunities for digitalization, shipping is an industry stuck in traditional ways of operations, speakers highlighted during the first SAFETY4SEA Virtual Forum earlier in October.

And while technology has paved a new reality for a tradition-oriented industry for many years now, enabling it not only to ease its operations but also to reduce its casualty rates, shipping seems to hesitate to leave behind its paper-based mentality. Given the advantages presented by automation and smart technology, the biggest challenge for shipping organizations seems to be a new mindset.

However, as AI is finding the most broad adaptation among the transportation industries, workforce disruptions are expected to displacing some tasks performed by humans into the realm of work performed by machines. Meanwhile, transportation, as a sector, offers fewer opportunities for remote work. As a result, 15% of the workforce in transportation are at risk of unemployment by 2025.


The way forward

Currently, only 21% of businesses report being able to make use of public funds to support their employees through reskilling and upskilling, the report also found. Therefore, the current moment provides an opportunity for leaders in business, government, and public policy to focus common efforts on improving delivery of reskilling and upskilling, motivating redeployment and reemployment.

To address the substantial challenges facing the labour market today, governments must pursue a holistic approach, creating active linkages and coordination between education providers, skills, workers and employers, and ensuring effective collaboration between employment agencies, regional governments and national governments.”

Such efforts can be enhanced by:

  • multi-stakeholder collaboration between companies looking to support their workforce;
  • governments willing to fund reskilling and the localization of mid-career education programmes;
  • professional services firms and technology firms that can map potential job transitions or provide reskilling services;
  • labour unions aware of the impact of those transitions on the well-being of workers; and
  • community organizations that can give visibility to the efficacy of new legislation and provide early feedback on its design.


Explore more by reading the full report:

The Future of Jobs