The rising middle class in emerging markets will have the largest effect on the consumer industries, financial services, transportation and logistic industries, according to a report by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Alan Marcus, Senior Director of Information Technology & Telecommunications at WEF, was speaking at the recent Pegasystems user conference in Las Vegas, and said that “Consumer ethics and privacy issues will also have a significant impact for some consumer, financial services and IT.

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Called “The Future of Jobs”, the WEF report looked at employment skills and workforce strategy for the future. Two thousand chief human resource officers and strategy officers from leading global employers were tested for their future needs for employment, skills, and for recruitment in their industry and across their geographies.

Marcus said that, overall, the study found changing and flexible work is seen as the most significant driver of change in advanced economies whereas the rising middle class takes this role in emerging markets.

The pace of industry transformation is unprecedented. Destructive changes to industry sectors are already reconfiguring business models and skill sets and will do so at an accelerated pace. So the time to impact trajectory over certain drivers of change differ between industries and are shaped by the specific nature of each sector’s current business model.

Furthermore, he suggested that regardless of the specific industry or of the driver of change, the pace continues to accelerate and expand. “Disruptive changes in industry sectors are already reconfiguring the models and skill sets. The future is predetermined or is already determined. What’s not determined is really the time frame of which we’ll see these changes occur. So we really need to be prepared today.

All of these developments are transforming the way we live, the way we work, learn, play, and socialise, he said.

What is certain is that the future workforce needs to align the skill set to keep pace. So five years from now, over a third of the skills that are considered important to today’s workforce will have changed. During previous industrial revolutions, it often took decades to build new training systems and labour markets needed to develop the new skill sets on a large scale. Given the upcoming pace and scale of disruption, brought on by the fourth industrial revolution, this is just not an option.

The WEF study argues that companies need to pursue a range of innovative workforce strategies, providing employees with wider exposure to roles across their firms, while stepping up efforts to target female talent pools and collaborating with the education sector more closely than in the past, he said.

These are some of the more popular measures we’re seeing. Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need. With the avalanche of new products, new technologies, and new ways of working, workers are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes. Then of course, there will be competition between industries for this creative talent.

Government has an important role in smoothing the transition, he suggested. “This will entail innovating with education and labour-related policy making, requiring a skills evolution of its own, and including rethinking even credentialing systems.

For the education training sector, he said it meant vast new business opportunities as it provides new services to individuals, entrepreneurs, and large corporations in the public sector. “We already see sustainability as an example of what’s part of architecture and design, but we need to see that grow. We need to see how to add creativity into our education systems and how to measure that success.

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