Interview: Agriculture, education and green transition to lead future job growth: WEF managing director

  • World
  • Tuesday, 02 May 2023

GENEVA, May 1 (Xinhua) -- The global job market is set to change significantly over the next four years, according to a report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Monday.

The WEF's "Future of Jobs Report 2023" warns that high inflation, slower economic growth and supply shortages pose the greatest risk to job growth. Increasing use of technology and digitization will cause significant labor market churn, although there will be an overall net positive in job creation, the report adds.

Saadia Zahidi, WEF managing director, told Xinhua that agriculture, education and the green transition will lead job growth over the next five years.

The agriculture sector will create nearly four million jobs, while the education sector will create three million, Zahidi said.

The green transition, especially the energy transition, is likely to create one million jobs.

"For example, there will be high demand for people working in environmental protection ... solar energy engineers," she added.

"When it comes to technology, this is where the picture is more mixed," she said. About half of companies expect that there will be a huge amount of job growth due to technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. However, a quarter expect that there will be job decline in areas like administrative and secretarial work, she explained.

According to Zahidi, the number one in-demand professions in China are going to be AI and machine learning. China is the second largest economy in the world, and therefore trends set by China will influence the rest of the world, she said.

Asked whether artificial intelligence poses a threat to the global job market, Zahidi said that "there is likely to be a net positive from the rise of artificial intelligence."

In 2018, she explained, there were major concerns that industrial and humanoid robots would displace people in sectors from advanced manufacturing to healthcare.

"That has not happened," she said, noting that some roles have declined, and at the same time, a lot more growth has happened; "so I think we're at a similar point when it comes to artificial intelligence."

Meanwhile, regarding China, Zahidi said the country is a huge base for manufacturing and global supply chains for the rest of the world, and expects a solid economic recovery this year. This will be "another source of job creation for China, but also for the rest of the world," Zahidi added.

The WEF report brings together the perspectives of 803 companies - collectively employing more than 11.3 million workers - across 27 industry clusters and 45 economies around the globe.

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