The greater adoption of robotics, automation, and artificial intelligence may be a boon for businesses but the impact on the global workforce is two-fold.
For years, the World Economic Forum has warned that the technological impact on the labour market could result in the loss of 7.1 million jobs through redundancy, automation, or disintermediation by 2020. In its 2016 study called The Future of Jobs it did say, however, that jobs will be created at the same time, an estimated 2.1 million mainly in more specialised areas such as computing, math, architecture, and engineering, which would offset some of those losses.
Of course that would mean that the jobs being created are within the highly-skilled area and will primarily be for scientists and engineers — giving greater pressure for companies and countries to find that new talent as well as grow a pipeline of relevant workers while also making sure they provide the means to skill-up existing workforces.
Every year WEF releases its benchmark Global Competitiveness Report that takes a look 98 indicators across 140 countries to determine the overall ranking. Each indicator uses a scale from 0 to 100, to signify how close an economy is to the ideal state or “frontier” of competitiveness. Those indicators are then organised into 12 pillars, such as health, skills, financial system, infrastructure, and institutions.
In addition, WEF this year used a new methodology to fully capture the new emerging dynamics of what fuels the global economy, which means including some other indicators that were not included before, such as diversity, workers rights, re-skilling, and press freedom.
This year, a sub-index which asked in its executive opinion survey “what extent are scientists and engineers available?” with 1 = not available at all; 7 = widely available, to determine which countries are best or worst prepared.
No country scored over 6.0, however Finland was the only country that reached that score and claimed the number one position. The United States came in second place with 5.7, which a host of countries hover within the 5.0 range.
Out of the 137 countries that were ranked in this sub-index, only 15 scored 5.0 and over, indicating the burgeoning skills gap in the workforce. The countries that were worst prepared are naturally some of the poorer nations, where poverty is still prevalent.