The future of work jobs and skills in 2030
It is not possible to predict the future. 20 years ago, there was widespread belief among commentators that the defining feature of the future UK labour market would be radically reduced working hours and increased leisure time. Fast forward to 2014, the year in which mobile is set to overtake desktop to access the internet, and work and leisure hours have become blurred by our increasingly ‘mobile’ lives (The Economist, 2012). Jobs are being done on the move, at any time of day, in almost any location. This example highlights the difficulties involved in forecasting change. Yet, the way we think about tomorrow influences what we do today. We do not have definitive answers about what is around the corner, but we can try to systematically make sense of the direction of travel in the labour market and assess the key uncertainties that we know exist. By analysing developments in the UK labour market now, we can start to position ourselves for the work needs and opportunities of the future. As we see welcome signs of a strengthening UK economy, it is an opportune time to take a detailed look at the medium to long-term prospects for the world of work. At the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, our mission is to transform approaches to skills investment to drive enterprise, jobs and growth. This report presents the results of The Future of Work study which looks ahead to the labour market of 2030. It analyses stable trends that are already shaping the future of UK jobs and skills and forecasts the most likely disruptions to those trends. It then plots four anticipated scenarios of what the UK’s work landscape might look like in 2030, and importantly, the skills that will be required under these conditions. The purpose of this report is to trigger debate about investment in skills and inform the decisions facing employers, individuals, policy makers and education providers. At a time when economic optimism is building, we can do more than merely react to developments – we can proactively work towards a positive outcome. Our aim is not to predict a specific future, rather to influence and challenge thinking in a constructive, creative way.