Dr. Vesselina Ratcheva is a Senior Data-Driven Researcher and Analyst at World Economic Forum (WEF) working to provide timely insights and practical recommendations to industry and policy leaders in the Platform for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum.
Ratcheva is a co-author of the Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Global Human Capital Report, Future of Jobs Report and Industry Gender Gap Report and in the past has led and collaborated on research projects spanning topics such as skills, identity (gender, ethnic), organizational culture, political mobilization, and international migration.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
How do you see the current situation triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of jobs and future employment prospects?
Throughout history, different circumstances have affected the employment prospects of individuals and their well-being at work. As with previous recessions, the one caused by COVID-19 has caused significant disruption to employment, from massive job losses to fundamental changes in how businesses manage their workforces. Early research indicates that the current disruption might be greater than the Financial Crisis a decade ago and the Great Depression experienced by the United States in the 1920s and 30s.
With 400 million full-time jobs lost due to the pandemic, according to ILO between April-June 2020, how can we rebuild and reimagine jobs amid the coronavirus crisis for businesses to stay future-ready?
The shock to labor markets has caused significant pressure on businesses across specific industries with many workers losing their jobs, while others have transitioned to remote working. In developed economies, it is estimated that less than half of workers can perform their job remotely, though some job continuity has been driven by expanding the practice of remote work. However, remote working needs to be accompanied by appropriate training in self-management and well-being skills as remote workers face new types of pressures and stress. Another part of the equation is business reorienting to models that will be viable and profitable in the current context and in the economy of the future – part of the job recovery undoubtedly lies in a fundamental economic change.
Do you think the new work from home phenomenon can transform the job market? Will this give rise to a global competition for every single job role?
Remote working is undoubtedly an important aspect of business continuity today. There are clear benefits of this transition for workers in the long-term, including balancing care and work responsibilities and moving to a more flexible work culture in the future of work. The degree to which job markets will be impacted will depend in part on approaches to taxing wages in different jurisdictions, the limitations of operating across different time zones, and the ecosystem for digital connectivity in different locations.
Early findings of the upcoming future of jobs 2020 report of world economic forum suggest we will see some similarity with the 2018 edition of the report where we found that on average 10 percent of jobs would be displaced and that job destruction will be offset by a set of emerging professions
What are some of the top questions that leaders need to ask to prepare for the future of work? What leadership traits will businesses need most in the post-pandemic days?
Two of our recent publications: “HR4.0: Shaping People Strategies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and “Workforce Principles for the COVID-19 Pandemic” outline some of those key principles. This includes principles such as the need to prioritize empathic and personalized communication, to articulate key policies, actively listen to employees and ensure they are empowered to use new technologies and to lead with integrity and purpose. The current context invariably requires some level of work re-design and therefore a need to be responsible in the use of short-term contracts, to re-deploy talent in a positive way to make new progress to works reskilling and up-skilling in future-facing competencies.
How do you see the job landscape five years down the line? Which jobs will be in demand and which ones you think can become redundant or transform?
The World Economic Forum will soon publish an analysis of this in our upcoming Future of Jobs 2020 Report, but early findings suggest we will see some similarity with the 2018 edition of the report where we found that on average 10% of jobs would be displaced and that job destruction will be offset by a set of emerging professions. The jobs displaced are still most likely to be ones that are easier to automate and based on routine rather than analysis, creativity, and innovation.
The WEF identified artificial intelligence specialists as the number one emerging data job in the future. According to LinkedIn Learning, artificial intelligence is a top hard skill for 2020. What's the implication of this trend for employers and employees?
It highlights the need to reskill and upskill workers towards stronger data science skills, a better understanding of artificial intelligence, and to expand digital literacy overall.
Adaptability may be the most essential skill in the COVID-19 world, as some experts say. How can businesses stay adaptive and embrace the new normal? How can employers, associations, and economies work together to improve the future of the job market?
One clear trend is to use data and foresight methods to track emerging trends and to adapt to the new normal. A large part of that adaptation is funding a refresh of workers’ skills with a focus on the competencies that will allow companies to stay at the frontier of their market. While some skills are job-specific other cross-functional skills can ensure workers are prepared to meet the challenges ahead. Those include self-management skills such as active learning, initiative and resilience, as well as problem solving skills such as analytical thinking, critical thinking, and reasoning.
For businesses to stay adaptive, it is important to use data and foresight methods to track emerging trends and to adapt to the new normal. A large part of that adaptation is funding a refresh of workers’ skills with a focus on the competencies that will allow companies to stay at the frontier of their market
Employers, governments and worker’s associations can work together to map talent needs, plan re-skilling and upskilling and scope out redeployment of displaced workers. Today such collaborations are still nascent.