Last month, Nesta, the UK’s Innovation Charity, released its report The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030. This report employs a novel mixed method approach that combines historic trends analysis, insights from experts, and machine learning algorithms to map how the job and skill compositions of the US and UK labour markets are likely to change.
Nesta’s report shines a bright light not only on the jobs and skills that may decline in prominence, but also on those that are likely to become more important. Its insights will be valuable to governments seeking to design new policies and programs to help citizens navigate a changing economy.
As the authors rightly state, this report “challenges the false alarmism [typical of many predictions about the future of work] that contributes to a culture of risk aversion and holds back technology adoption, innovation, and growth.”
What did Nesta do differently?
To date, research on the future of work has been largely limited to whether or not a job or task is at risk of being automated. However, this approach downplays the role that technology plays in creating jobs and de-emphasizes how other trends like globalization, climate change, and an aging population might impact the future of work. Most studies have also been less focused on how these changes influence the skills that workers will need.
Nesta’s study addresses many of these gaps by examining how a variety of megatrends might impact job demand, and what skills are most likely to be important in the future.
What did Nesta find?
The study found that, in general across the UK and US labour markets:
- Roughly one-tenth of people in the labour force are in occupations that are expected to grow, whereas roughly one-fifth are in occupations expected to shrink.