From education to employment

A Paradigm Shift: Not Fewer Jobs, But Different Jobs

Freya Thomas Monk

In this article, Freya discusses new research from Pearson which predicts that, despite the impact of automation and augmentation on the workforce, there will be more jobs available across England in four years’ time.

Economic success hinges on the delicate balance between the skills of the workforce and the needs of employers.

In an era where technology is the driving force behind unprecedented changes in the employment landscape, it’s imperative that we equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools to navigate these shifts effectively.

Pearson’s analysis in our Skills Map of England launched this week reveals that nearly 7% of jobs across England will be impacted by automation and augmentation by 2027, affecting over 2 million workers. Pearson used its own proprietary machine learning models to sift through vast datasets to predict the trajectory of the workforce. This not only includes growth areas but also areas where jobs may decrease due to emerging technologies.

The disruption is imminent

The disruption is imminent, and the ripple effects will be felt across different age groups, skill levels, and regions. It’s a wake-up call to acknowledge the looming upheaval and the opportunities and challenges that come with this.

Contrary to the prevailing fear that automation equates to fewer jobs, Pearson’s predictions offer an optimistic perspective. The forecast suggests that, by 2027, there will be a net increase of 390,000 additional roles, totalling 2.4 million new jobs. This shift is not a reduction in opportunities; instead, it signifies a transformation in the types of jobs available.

The key lies in understanding the ebb and flow of opportunity across different sectors. While the digital sector is projected to grow by 26%, creating around 365,480 additional jobs, the wholesale and retail sector is expected to decrease by nearly 170,000 positions. The challenge, therefore, lies in efficiently transitioning displaced individuals into these emerging career paths.

Local-level analysis becomes paramount in crafting effective skill strategies.

Pearson’s data indicates that each region in England will witness significant job impacts, but the specific demands vary. Local leaders express a desire for tailored, localised actions that build on regional strengths. 

Flexible and adaptable workforces thrive in the face of change. Regions with the ability to anticipate and embrace new opportunities are positioned to thrive over the coming years. The challenge is not just about preparing for 2027, but about cultivating a continuous adaptability that can meet the evolving demands of the modern economy.

Policymakers must play an active role in shaping the future of the workforce. The recommendations include further devolving skills and employment funding to combined authorities. Local leaders are better equipped to understand and respond to their region’s specific needs, making devolution a key strategy for targeted skill development.

We need a skills pipeline that aligns with technological advancements.

This includes supporting those at risk of job displacement, upskilling individuals for growing sectors, and aiding the economically inactive to re-enter the workforce. Proactive measures, implemented now, are essential to building a resilient workforce that can navigate the evolving employment landscape.

Data emerges as a central player in this proactive approach

Evidence-led policymaking, driven by private and public sector data, ensures that decisions are forward-looking and aligned with future workforce trends. Pearson advocates for regular data exercises in devolved areas to keep policymakers informed and empower them to make informed decisions.

In the journey toward a future-ready workforce, Pearson’s Skills Map of England acts as a guiding compass. The challenges posed by technological transformations are significant, but the opportunities for growth and adaptation are equally vast.

Policymakers, educators, and employers must heed the call to action, embracing localised strategies, proactive measures, and data-driven decision-making to ensure that England’s workforce not only survives but thrives in the face of change.

By Freya Thomas Monk, Managing Director of Vocational Qualifications and Training, at Pearson

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