Find out how workers in five countries think technology will affect their jobs

by Brianna Crandall — August 25, 2017 — Almost three-quarters (74%) of people surveyed by global professional services firm PwC are ready to learn a new skill or completely retrain to keep themselves employable, seeing it as their personal responsibility and not their employers’, to keep their skills updated.

The findings are from PwC’s latest report, Workforce of the Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030, based on a survey of 10,000 people across the U.K., Germany, China, India and the United States. Their views reinforce a shift to continuous learning while earning, so employees can keep up with technology’s impact on jobs and the workplace, says PwC.

White machines in a big room

Workers are facing up to completely retraining or reskilling to tackle technology’s impact on employment.

The report examines four worlds of work in 2030 to show how competing forces, including automation, are shaping the workforces of the future. Each scenario has huge implications for the world of work, which cannot be ignored by governments, organizations or individuals, asserts the report.

Around half of the respondents (54%) believe they have all the skills needed for their career. Confidence is lower than the global average in the U.K. (35%) and Germany (45%), and higher in the USA (60%), India (67%) and China (59%).

The majority of respondents believe technology will improve their job prospects (65%), although workers in the USA (73%) and India (88%) are more confident than those in the U.K. (40%) and Germany (48%).  Overall, nearly three-quarters believe technology will never replace the human mind (73%), and the majority (86%) say human skills will always be in demand.

Carol Stubbings, partner and joint global leader for People and Organization at PwC, remarked:

The reality of life-long learning is biting amongst today’s workforce — no matter what age you are. The report found that 60% of respondents believe few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future. People are shifting from a qualification that would last a lifetime to thinking about new skills every few years, matched with ongoing development of personal skills such as risk management, leadership and emotional intelligence.

While respondents to the survey were positive about the impact of technology, with 37% excited about the future world of work and seeing a world full of possibilities, there is still concern that automation is putting some jobs at risk. Overall, 37% of respondents believe automation is putting their job at risk, up from 33% in 2014. And over half (56%) think governments should take action needed to protect jobs from automation.

Jon Williams, partner and joint global leader for People and Organisation at PwC, commented:

Anxiety kills confidence and the willingness to innovate. With a third of workers worried about the future of their jobs due to automation, employers need to be having mature conversations now, to include workers in the technology debate. This will help them to understand, prepare and potentially upskill for any impact technology may have on their job in the future. The shift is nothing less than a fundamental transformation in the way we work, and organizations must not underestimate the change ahead.

The four worlds of work in 2030

The report presents four future scenarios — or worlds — for work in 2030, to demonstrate the possible outcomes that might evolve over the next 10 years due to the impact of megatrends in artificial intelligence, automation and machine learning. It looks forward to examine how workforces in each of these worlds would have adapted, as well as how technology is influencing how each of the worlds functions.

Jon Williams, partner and joint global leader, People and Organisation at PwC further commented:

The report outlines four very different worlds, each with huge implications for how we know work today. None of us can know with any certainty what the world will look like in 2030, but it’s likely facets of the four worlds will feature in some way and at some time. Machine learning and AI will help us do a much better job of workforce planning in the future, but we can’t sit back and wait for the future of work to happen. Those organizations and workers that understand potential futures, and what each might mean for them, and plan ahead, will be best prepared to succeed.

Download a copy of the Workforce of the Future: The Competing Forces Shaping 2030 report or find out about PwC’s people and organization expertise from the PwC Web site.