New developments in computer technologies and applications often lead to speculation about the future world of work, the future of jobs: how jobs will change; which areas of work will provide employment growth; and also: in which areas the new frontier technologies will provide opportunities or threats for incumbents or students entering the job market.
Publications on the future of jobs in the digital era, appear on a regular basis: some with sensational prognoses of job losses, often inspired by science-fiction movie experiences, while others are taking a more reassuring line that not much will change. The appearance of Generative AI applications (such as ChatGPT) towards the end of 2022, lead to a flurry of views and speculations – creating much uncertainty in the market and in higher education institutions.
Recently, the two-yearly report “The Future of Jobs” by the World Economic Forum appeared – a publication that has developed a good reputation as a well-researched, well-informed and very realistic view of developments in the world of work. The report can be downloaded from https://www.weforum.org/reports/.
The report already identifies the powerful and pervasive forces relating to the frontier technologies, amongst others, Generative AI. The set of evidence from the surveys provides a strong foundation for informed deliberations on the future of jobs. The report indicates that businesses identify increased adoption of new and frontier technologies and broadening digital access as the two trends that are most likely to drive transformation in their organisations – in fact, in over 85% of the organisations surveyed. This transformative process will lead to “job displacements”, with job losses in some areas, and job increases in others.
The report – even if only the parts on key findings and the identification of trends – provides important reading for higher education institutions, given their role in preparing future generations for their economic contributions by creating work, or entering the job market. As incumbents and students chart their own job futures, higher education institutions in the SADC should consider how they will position themselves and their learning programmes to develop adaptive graduates, and to meet the demand for reskilling and upskilling.
SARUA plays a role in capacity building for higher education institutions and their staff in the SADC region, amongst others to address the issues identified in this WEF report.