January 23, 2018

Eight Futures of Work Scenarios and their Implications

The world of work is undergoing a period of dramatic change. As automation, primarily in the form of robotics, artificial intelligence and other new technologies, are developing at an unprecedented rate, and are having a significant impact on multiple industries, they are leading to wide-ranging changes to the jobs, tasks and skills required within each sector. Concurrently, a number of other factors, such as labour mobility and migration; demographic change; changes in the delivery and quality of education and skills; and growing talent needs in sectors such as infrastructure, healthcare and education are also changing the nature and quality of work.

In this White Paper, the World Economic Forum provide various scenarios of what the future of work might look like by the year 2030. These scenarios present possible outcomes based on how different combinations of key variables—some of them already in effect and underway—are likely to influence the nature of work in the future. They have selected three core variables—the rate of technological change and its impact on business models; the evolution of learning among the current and future workforce; and the magnitude of talent mobility across geographies—to map out potential scenarios.

While these scenarios are designed to create a basis for discussion among policy-makers, businesses, academic institutions and individuals, and to support them in anticipating and preparing for the changes to come, they are not predictions. Indeed, the intention in this work is to demonstrate that the future is not pre-determined. All of the scenarios we present are possible, but none is certain. The most likely outcome is a combination, with different scenarios playing out simultaneously in different geographies, industries, age cohorts and socio-economic groups.

WEF FOW Eight Futures