Any crisis, however hard, hides opportunities to change society - and hence the world of work - for the better. Though they may presently be struggling, there will be opportunities for some sectors to become the driving force in economic recovery. Identifying those sectors will reveal the most in-demand skills for the coming months and years. To this end, the Jobs of the Future Index recently published by Cognizant comes in handy with its analysis of growth sectors and forecasts of which roles will emerge in the future.
As all labour market experts concur, the first sector is AAA (algorithms, AI, automation) where we find the professions involved in the study of Big Data and its various applications – from Industry 4.0 to public services (digital public administration, home banking and so on).
The reports clearly states that if data is the new oil, then the pipelines have to be engineered “by business intelligence architects and developers”, in other words by the set of company processes designed to collect data and analyse strategic information. These are the fastest-growing jobs (+25% in one quarter alone) but there is also call for data scientists, mechatronic engineers (the discipline that deals with the automation of production processes) and robotics engineers.
Among the jobs of the future is the ‘cyber calamity forecaster’, the expert in cyber threats
According to Cognizant, the cyber calamity forecaster (the expert in cyber threats) will also become an important figure in the years to come. With threats from hackers a constant risk, never before have we been so aware of how important it is to protect our sensitive data on the web. And as a result, it is highly likely that companies and public authorities will be calling on these experts to foresee and prevent cyber-attacks.
Another sector showing growth is healthcare. Though Cognizant’s research is based on the US market and each national healthcare system has its own rules and operating methods that are difficult to compare, it is nonetheless indicative of the growing interest in the healthcare sector, whether that be in hospital or at home. The Covid emergency is likely to sharpen this trend given that one of the most sought-after professions is the caregiver – the person who takes care of the sick, disabled and elderly in their homes.
Still in the health sector, the report highlights the potential growth in jobs to do with nutrition and physical wellbeing – we could perhaps imagine a role that is somewhere between a nutritionist and a personal trainer.
The environment is the third sector highlighted in the report. Heightened by street actions, last autumn’s green wave made public institutions and enterprises more aware of the need to make their operations more sustainable. The report points out that in the USA things have been complicated by the not particularly green attitude of President Trump, but globally the trend is clear. There are many professions in this sector: from specialised production and installation workers (for solar panels for example) to the various types of environmental engineer and consultant who design more eco-sustainable buildings or reduce a company’s energy consumption and much more besides.
Government should focus on training programmes for the unemployed by incentivising in-company schemes
Given the way the wind is blowing on the post-Covid labour market, the right policies could boost employment.
Francesco Filippucci, a PhD from the Paris School of Economics and senior fellow at the Tortuga think tank, recently outlined such policies in the web magazine ‘lavoce.info’. He has identified three possible ways to invest in training. First and foremost is the idea of an individual training account: an annual amount for every worker to spend on courses officially recognised by the government, trade unions or employer associations. In France, such a scheme was introduced in 2014 to provide each worker with an annual sum of 500 euro, for a total cost to the state of 750 million euro.
Training for the unemployed is another critical issue. Filippucci maintains that Italy’s national agency for active work policies (ANPAL) needs reinforcing through collaboration with regional governments. In this case, the governments’ investment would supposedly be much higher but Filippucci suggests maximising the processes put in place to administer the country’s so-called citizen’s income (Guaranteed Minimum Income).
The third concept Filippucci proposes is controversial but nonetheless interesting: make it mandatory for companies to set aside funds for training. This was the case in France up to 2014, where companies with more than 10 employees were obliged to spend 2% of their wage bill. As he points out, such a measure could be unpopular in the wake of the Covid crisis. A more reasonable solution for Italy could be to insists that a portion of the 400 billion euro the country has offered as bank loan guarantees be spent on training programmes.