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Nearly 40% of workers fear their jobs will become obsolete within five years

There’s high anxiety in the recently released PwC’s Hopes and Fears 2021 report which surveyed more than 32,500 workers in 19 countries. The study found workers wanting more digital skills, more inclusive workplaces, and greater flexibility.

The coronavirus pandemic has already disrupted entire industries, further adding to people’s anxiety about their future jobs.

The International Labor Organization (ILO) says that an unprecedented 114 million people experienced the loss of employment hours or jobs altogether due to the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.

As many jobs continue to be remote, companies are stepping up their automation plans. The pressure is on for employees across every sector to acquire new skills that will allow them to work and think in different ways.

Jobs Future
Image: Hopes and Fears 2021, PwC

“Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most at-risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need,” said Bhushan Sethi, Joint Global Leader of PwC’s People and Organization Practice.

“Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not.”

While this may seem alarming and pessimistic, there will be future jobs for those who work towards pivoting to meet the work demands of tomorrow.

“The future of work and learning are invariably tied together. Being able to adapt to work changes requires a change mindset and new skills,” said David Yeo, a learning architect.

“These skills must be learned, but the challenge is how do we do this at scale for organizations and societies at large. This is a problem worth tackling.”

Choosing income over ‘making a difference’

Three-quarters of workers globally say they want to work for an organization that will make a “positive contribution to society.” This sentiment was especially acute in China (87%), India (90%), and South Africa (90%). 

That said, economic insecurity is hampering everyone’s ability to pursue purpose-driven careers, with younger workers particularly affected. Overall, 54% of those polled said if they had to choose, they would prefer work that allowed them to “take every opportunity to maximize their income” over a role that “makes a difference.” 

Prefer mix of remote & in-person working

While not everyone has been able to work from home in the pandemic, the survey found that almost three-quarters of workers who can work remotely want a mix of remote and in-person working. Only 9% said they’d like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time.

The PwC study revealed that the workspaces of the future will be centered on teams coming together to collaborate, brainstorm, and solve problems.

The Hopes and Fears 2021 report was based on a survey conducted between January 26 and February 8, 2021, of 32,517 members of the general public.

Respondents included workers, business owners, contract workers, students, the unemployed looking for work, and those on furlough or temporarily laid off.

The survey polled workers in 19 countries, including  Australia, China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore.

LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia
LEARNTech Asia showcases innovation in learning in Asia. We feature stories and resources in online learning, workplace learning, adult education, EdTech, and creative solutions by teachers and trainers in learning institutions, non-profits, and enterprises that enhance human capacity and inspire communities of lifelong learners.