What the 2030 workforce could look like without reskilling

Experts predict a major swing in talent scarcity for some skill sets.
By: | May 5, 2021 • 3 min read

The role of automation is continuing to reshape what the American workforce could look like in the near future.

For instance, according to a new report on the impact of automation and technology adoption, employers seeking architectural, engineering, computer and tech workers in a variety of industries will face a real challenge within the next few years, while there will be a surplus of candidates for office support and administrative-type jobs.

The report, The Future of Jobs in the Era of AI, from Faethm AI and Boston Consulting Group, found that the U.S. will likely experience a shortfall in its workforce of 600,000 to 12.5 million people—between 0.9% and 4.2%—by 2030. By that year, for instance, the organizations predict that the deficit in architecture and engineering workers is set to rise from 60,000 in 2020 to 1.3 million, while computers and mathematics will soar from 571,000 in 2020 to 6.1 million. The deficit for healthcare practitioners and technical support will rise to 1.1 million and to nearly 1.7 million, respectively, in that eight-year time frame.

On the flip side, for office and administrative support roles across the U.S., the surplus of workers will rise from 1.4 million in 2020 to 3.0 million in 2030.

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In all models explored in the report, the increasing adoption of automation, artificial intelligence and other technologies suggests that the role of humans in the economy will shift dramatically, impacting millions of jobs across blue-and white-collar roles. Plus, COVID-19 hastened this effect by accelerating technology adoption.

“Automation of mundane, repetitive tasks in legal, accounting, administrative and similar professions will mean that core human abilities—such as empathy, imagination, creativity and emotional intelligence, which cannot be replicated by technology—will become more valuable,” explains Stephen Farrell, vice president at Faethm. “The U.S. needs a labor force that has the right composition of skills to meet the needs of the digital age, which demands public and private sector actors to upskill and reskill on a large scale.”

See also: Reskilling—a matter of survival

“Understanding the future of jobs is a tall order, but the groundbreaking analysis we have conducted with Faethm helps governments, companies and individuals take the critical first step to prepare for what is to come,” adds Kelsey Clark, managing director and partner at Boston Consulting Group.

The report also offers some specific steps all stakeholders can take to prepare for a digitized future. For example, it says national and local governments should hone their predictions of how the workforce will change over time through predictive analytics and develop training programs to give displaced workers new skills.

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For their part, employers should anticipate the skills and capabilities they will need to succeed in the future, improve their recruiting and retention programs and build a culture of lifelong learning. And individuals can help themselves by proactively learning new skills and being flexible about changes over time.

“Successfully managing the transition to a future workforce will minimize the economic and social friction associated with the misalignment of supply and demand,” says Clark.

Tom Starner is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia who has been covering the human resource space and all of its component processes for over two decades. He can be reached at hreletters@lrp.com.