Report: 85 million jobs at risk by 2025 as the pandemic speeds up workplace automation

Posted at 8:51 AM, Oct 21, 2020

With stay-at-home orders and continued safety precautions to stop the spread of the coronavirus keeping humans at home or away from each other, robots and automated systems have been picking up some of the slack.

The World Economic Forum says the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the labor market to change faster than expected, embracing automation and robotic helpers to keep businesses going while human employees have to stay home or remain socially distant.

That acceleration will disrupt, or displace, roughly 85 million jobs around the world by 2025, according to the group’s Future of Jobs Report 2020.

According to the report, by 2025, roles and jobs that leverage human skills will rise in demand. Machines will primarily be focused on information and data processing, administrative tasks and routine manual jobs.

The group says emerging professions in the next several years will be in data and artificial intelligence, content creation and cloud computing. They also say employers will be looking for these top skills among their employees: analytical thinking, creativity and flexibility.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the arrival of the future of work,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director, World Economic Forum. “Accelerating automation and the fallout from the COVID-19 recession has deepened existing inequalities across labour markets and reversed gains in employment made since the global financial crisis in 2007-2008. It’s a double disruption scenario that presents another hurdle for workers in this difficult time. The window of opportunity for proactive management of this change is closing fast.”

The “robot revolution” could create 97 million new jobs. Those industries most at-risk of job disruption will need to re-skill workers to ensure they are qualified for these new opportunities and the business remains competitive, the report says.