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The Future of Work

In cooperation with the World Economic Forum’s Future of Work project, BCG is developing a blueprint to help companies assess and manage changes and challenges in the future of work.

Future Possibilities and How to Prepare for Them

In our first year of cooperation with the WEF, we produced two reports. The first defines what will likely affect the future of work, and how various scenarios might lead to distinct future states. The second focuses on reskilling, the most impactful action that stakeholders can take to promote a positive future.

This report lays out eight scenarios for what the future of work might look like by the year 2030. It explores possible outcomes based on distinct combinations of key uncertainties that are likely to influence the nature of work in the future: technology, learning evolution, and talent mobility.

The future of work is not predetermined. All of the scenarios we present are possible, yet none are certain. We close the report by discussing specific actions that governments and businesses can take to proactively manage future changes and challenges.

This report introduces our approach to identifying reskilling and job transition opportunities of the future. We use big data analysis of online job postings from Burning Glass Technologies, and statistics on job growth/declines from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics through 2026, to demonstrate the power of a data-driven approach to discover reskilling pathways and job transition opportunities.

Our results show that adequate reskilling holds promise: 95% of at-risk workers could find good-quality, higher-wage jobs with good future prospects. Reskilling and job transitions also present an opportunity to close the wage gap, as 74% of women will receive increased wages, compared to 53% of men. As 70% of affected workers will need to re-train into a different job family, a reskilling revolution is required.

Concrete Recommendations and Funding the Preparations

In our second year of cooperation with the WEF, we produced one report with two core elements:

  1. Concrete recommendations on how companies can tackle the challenges of upskilling and reskilling to prepare for the Future of Work
  2. A real business case for reskilling impacted workers from a company and government perspective

Our report outlines a cost-benefit calculation from the perspectives of both the company and the government. The model shows that the private sector in the US could reskill 25% of workers expected to be displaced by technology into growing job fields, and the government could reskill 77%, with a positive cost-benefit balance. Utilizing economies of scale, nearly half of the disrupted workforce could be profitably reskilled by the private sector in-house, and nearly all could be reskilled with a positive cost-benefit balance from the government perspective.

The report’s recommendations were built on more than 60 in-depth interviews with C-level experts across five industries. Input from business executives, leading human resources and strategy departments, deans of relevant academic departments, and heads of trade unions and industry associations, as well as key policy makers, were analyzed and condensed to produce the insights.

Featured Experts

Thomas Fink

Consultant

Munich

World Economic Forum

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