Pearson skills report predicts 'one in five' jobs heading for decline

Pearson skills report predicts 'one in five' jobs heading for decline

Pearson is forecasting "only one in five workers are in occupations that will shrink", as part of a report it has published examining the jobs and skills most likely to be in demand by 2030, after working with researchers at Nesta and the Oxford Martin School.

The report entitled “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030”, released today (28th September), also suggested, in spite of fears around automation and its impact on the job market, that one in 10 people are "highly likely" to experience a rise in demand for their job. 

Based on a methodology analysing the interaction of macro-economic trends, and making use of machine learning algorithms, it found that the skills needed for success are changing, projecting the remaining 70% of workers may be able to boost their prospects if they can invest in the right skills. 

Philippe Schneider, researcher and co-author of the report, conceded sustained disruption - as a result of automation but also globalisation, environmental changes and political uncertainty - meant thinking systematically about trends wouldn't be able to give conclusive answers, but could provide "clues" and "challenge imaginations" as policies are designed to improve the adaptability and employability of workforces.

According to the report, in the UK, occupations related to natural and social sciences, food and hospitality and education and teaching are the most likely to see a rise in demand. 

Across both the US and the UK, the occupations most likely experience a rise in employment are associated with education, health care and wider public sector occupations. Creative, digital, design, and engineering occupations were also found to have "bright outlooks" in both countries.

But decline in employment is forecast to take place in jobs related to transportation and traditional manufacturing.

In terms of knowledge areas, English language, history, philosophy and administration and management are all generally associated with occupations forecast to see a rise in workforce share. By contrast, STEM-related knowledge areas such as science and technology design will find "use only in particular occupations".

Social skills have been branded "the key to success as demand for uniquely human skills rises". Other skills predicted to be in higher future demand include social perceptiveness, active learning, active listening, judgment, and decision making, as well as cognitive skills such as fluency of ideas, originality, and oral expression.

Physical abilities, such as stamina, depth perception, meanwhile are forecast to decline. However, it found some activities, like food preparation and hospitality, will grow in importance, reflecting wider consumer trends with the rise of artisanal businesses.

Following the findings, John Fallon, chief executive officer, Pearson, called for a reevaluation of the skills preparing students for "the workforce of tomorrow".

“The future of work is brighter than conventional wisdom suggests--it is not going to be human versus machine, but rather human and machine," said Fallon. "It is clear that technology is changing the global economy and labour markets, but we still retain the ability to control our destiny. We must reevaluate the skills people will need for a digital future, and update our education systems to ensure teachers have the right tools to help students succeed in the workforce of tomorrow."

Hasan Bakhshi, executive director for Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, said: ”While there is no shortage of research assessing the impacts of automation on individual occupations, there is far less that focuses on skills, and even less so that has actionable insights for stakeholders in areas like job redesign and learning priorities. The future of work for most people is not inevitable."

Michael Osborne, co-director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, added: "In the face of legitimate concerns about the consequences of technological change on jobs, our study identifies where new opportunities might emerge. We show what the entirely new jobs of the future might look like: these include those accessible to those affected by automation.”