What skills will you need to secure a job in 2030?

26 July 2016

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Michael Osborne, Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment, has joined forces with learning company Pearson and innovation foundation Nesta for a new research partnership to provide businesses, governments and education experts with new insights and evidence about the skills and competencies which will be required in the future economy.

Through Employment in 2030: Skills, Competencies & the Implications for Learning, the research team will provide recommendations for how education, job training and other workforce development efforts in the US and UK can shift practice today in an attempt to better prepare the workforce of tomorrow.

At the heart of the research are two cutting-edge methodologies that are rarely combined:

  • foresight exercises featuring sector experts who will examine the trends that will shape the jobs market in the future, how they will interact, and what that means for the demand for different types of jobs; and
  • a machine learning algorithm deployed on O*NET data (a US Department of Labor occupational database that offers a wealth of insights into the skills and competencies required for nearly 1000 occupations).

Through this novel methodology the research team will be able to predict the likely demand for different skills, and skill combinations, for the jobs economy of 2030.

The project builds on Carl Benedikt Frey and Osborne's seminal 2013 paper, The Future Of Employment, in which they predicted that up to about 47 percent of total US employment is at risk from computerisation.

"I am optimistic that there will still be plenty of good jobs available in fifteen years’ time, but it's clear that many of these will require mixes and depths of skills that are currently rare," said Associate Professor Osborne. "To plan for this, we need greater insight into what these skill combinations will be. We also need learning - across ages and stages - to begin to prepare for these probable futures."

The partnership also extends the existing collaboration between Michael Osborne, Carl Benedikt Frey and Hasan Bakhshi, Senior Director of Creative Economy and Data Analytics at Nesta, who said the research would help answer "some of the most pressing questions education faces."

He added: "By extending beyond the effects of automation to examine the wider set of profound trends that will shape the demand for skills in 2030, and by coupling expert foresight exercises with machine learning, we will be able to surface novel insights that policy makers and practitioners can have the confidence to act on.”

Pearson and, Nesta and the Oxford Martin School will share the findings of this research publicly in order to facilitate dialogue with educators, policymakers and others who seek to understand the impact of technological advancements on the future jobs economy, and the implications for how education can best be organized to prepare learners today for the jobs of tomorrow.

Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor to Pearson, said: “Businesses, governments and schools are struggling to adapt to the pace of change required to prepare the workforce of tomorrow. This world-class research partnership provides an opportunity for us to learn now about the skills and competencies that will be needed tomorrow - and to prepare accordingly.”

Read more:

Quartz: What skills will human workers need when robots take over? A new algorithm would let the machines decide

Nesta blog: Employment in 2030: skills, competencies and the implications for learning