WEF warns a number of jobs becoming redundant in SA
JOHANNESBURG - The World Economic Forum (WEF) has warned that a number of jobs were becoming redundant in South Africa due to the changing nature of work which has been accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The WEF’s “The Future of Jobs 2020” report released yesterday flagged jobs including insurance underwriters, sales representatives, data entry clerks, assembly and factory workers, among others, as jobs that were being phased out of the domestic labour markets.
The Covid-19 induced recession has already forced 2.2 million people out of jobs in the three months to June in South Africa, and many more jobs are expected to be lost as economic activity remains subdued.
The Future of Jobs 2020 report said that Covid-19 has caused the global labour market to change faster than expected, and that what used to be considered the “future of work” has already arrived.
It said that while technology-driven job creation was still expected to outpace job destruction over the next five years, the economic contraction was reducing the rate of growth in the jobs of tomorrow.
The report said that by 2025, automation and a new division of labour between humans and machines will disrupt 85 million jobs globally in medium and large businesses across 15 industries and 26 economies.
It said more than 80 percent of business executives were accelerating plans to digitize work processes and deploy new technologies, and that 50 percent of employers were expecting to accelerate the automation of some roles in their companies.
WEF managing director Saadia Zahidi said the Covid-19 had accelerated the arrival of the future of work.
“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,” Zahid said.
“It’s a double disruption scenario that presents another hurdle for workers in this difficult time.”
The report found that in South Africa, jobs such as process automation specialists, big data specialists, artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists were among the most sought-after emerging professions.
It said South African companies surveyed were looking to automate the working environment, retain existing employees, outsource some business functions to external contractors, and hire new temporary staff and freelancers with skills relevant to new technologies as a response to shifting skill needs.
Jeff Maggioncalda, one of the report partners, said the Covid-19 pandemic had disproportionately impacted millions of low-skilled workers.
“The recovery must include a coordinated reskilling effort by institutions to provide accessible and job-relevant learning that individuals can take from anywhere in order to return to the workforce,” Maggioncalda said.