In contrast to many recent headlines, a new study finds that many jobs today will still be in demand by 2030 and beyond. However, while jobs may remain, the skills needed for success are changing.

The recently released report, “The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030,” produced by Pearson in partnership with Nesta, and in collaboration with researchers from the Oxford Martin School, takes an entirely new approach to forecasting employment and skill demands in the US and UK.

For the first time, researchers combined diverse human expertise with active machine learning to produce a more nuanced view of future employment trends.

Using this innovative approach, the study forecasts that only one in five workers are in occupations that face a high likelihood of decline.

The research also forecasts one in ten people are highly likely to experience a rise in demand for their job. The remaining roughly 70 percent of workers are in jobs where there is greater uncertainty about the future: these workers can boost their prospects if they can invest in the right skills.

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

Rather than “doom and gloom,” the findings show how colleges and universities can take action to help more students become prepared for the future.

Occupations and Majors

Across both the US and the UK, the occupations forecast to most likely experience a rise in employment are associated with education, health care and wider public sector occupations.

In the US, however, confidence in the growth of health care occupations, traditionally defined, is lower than might be expected given the size of the industry and the aging of the population, perhaps reflecting political uncertainties related to US health care policy.

Creative, digital, design, and engineering occupations are also found to have bright outlooks in both countries.

Decline in employment is forecast to take place in occupations related to transportation and traditional manufacturing.

Knowledge areas such as 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.

Meanwhile, strong social skills will be the key to success as demand for uniquely human skills rises. The skills forecast to be in higher future demand include social perceptiveness, active learning, active listening, judgment, and decision making.

In addition, cognitive skills such as fluency of ideas, originality, and oral expression are forecast to increase in demand; whereas physical abilities such as stamina and depth perception, are forecast to decline.

“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 John Fallon, chief executive officer at Pearson, in a statement. “It is clear that technology is changing the global economy and labor 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.”

(Next page: Threats of automation; US versus UK)

About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.

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