The COVID-19 global economic recession is deepening existing inequalities across global labour markets and reversing the gains in employment made since the Global Financial Crisis of a decade ago. Emerging technologies continue to reshape labour markets, and those trends have only accelerated with the onset of a new recession.

Millions of workers worldwide are facing significant job uncertainty. Data from the International Labour Organization (ILO) has shown that during the first half of 2020, real unemployment figures jumped to an average of 6.6%, with an estimated loss of working hours equivalent to 495 million jobs in Q2 2020. The OECD predicts that unemployment rates could double by the end of the year.

Now in its third edition, the Future of Jobs Report 2020 maps the jobs and skills of the future, tracking the pace of change and direction of travel. Here are some of the key findings:

1. COVID-19 has had a lasting effect

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the arrival of the future of work. The Future of Jobs Survey finds that 50% of employers will accelerate the automation of their work, while over 80% are set to expand the digitization of their work processes. That means that some jobs that have been lost will never come back, and those that do will require new ways of working and new skills

2. Automation continues to increase

The Future of Jobs Report projects that by 2025, the hours of work performed by machines and people will be equal. Around 85 million roles are set to be displaced by automation – primarily across manual or repetitive roles spanning both blue-collar and white-collar jobs – from assembly factory workers and accountants.

3. New jobs will emerge

Despite the accelerated disruption to jobs, the report also predicts that 97 million new jobs of tomorrow will emerge by 2025. The most in-demand roles in future job markets include Data Analysts and Scientists, AI and Machine Learning Specialists, Robotics Engineers, Software and Application developers as well as Digital Transformation Specialists, Information Security Analysts and Internet of Things Specialists which can be broadly clustered in 10 emerging jobs clusters explored in the report.

4. The most in-demand skills are a mix of hard and soft skills

The most in-demand skills of the future will include working with people, problem-solving and self-management skills such as resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility. This increase in required self-management skills is clear as workers face a range of pressures to adapt to new, more digital ways of working. Product Management, Digital Marketing and Software Development Lifecycle are among the core set of specialized skills required for emerging professions. Reskilling for the roles of the future will require a time investment ranging from three weeks to five months.

5. Human capital is increasingly important

Employers are convinced in the value of building human capital – with 66% believing they will get a return on investment from training employees within a year. Data from the past five years shows that workers often actually don’t need the perfect skill set to transition into new roles. The scale of the challenge is significant, with employers looking to internally redeploy half of their workers. Meanwhile, some 40% of the average worker’s skills will need to be updated to meet the demands of future labour markets. Employers are facing this challenge broadly on their own - only 21% can tap into government funding to deliver training programmes.

The Future of Jobs Report 2020 is a call to action to accelerate a Reskilling Revolution across economies. It highlights the increasing urgency of supporting displaced and at-risk workers as they navigate paths towards the "jobs of tomorrow." The current moment provides an opportunity for leaders in business, government, and public policy to focus common efforts on allowing workers to thrive in the new economy.