The Future of Workforce

The competing forces shaping 2030

According to a PwC survey of 10,029 members of the general population-based in China, Germany, India, the UK, and the US

37% are worried about automation putting jobs at risk – up from 33% in 2014.

The potential for digital platforms and AI to underpin and grow the world of work is unbounded. They already play an essential role in the development of all Four Worlds of Work, matching skills to an employer, capital to investor, and consumer to the supplier. This platform layer brings a digital value chain and commoditization and automation of the back office – but comes with warnings. While it can create a thriving marketplace, it can grow to take over the entire economic system. And with platform pervasiveness comes vulnerability to cyber-attacks or wide-scale manipulation. Closely linked to digital is data. How governments, organizations, and individuals decide to share and use it is key to all our worlds – even the most human-centric.

74% are ready to learn new skills or re-train to remain employable in the future.

One clear lesson arises from the analysis: adaptability – in organizations, individuals, and society – is essential for navigating the changes ahead.

It’s impossible to predict exactly the skills that will be needed even five years from now, so workers and organizations need to be ready to adapt – in each of the worlds we envisage. Inevitably, much of the responsibility will be on the individual. They will need not only to adapt to organizational change but be willing to acquire new skills and experiences throughout their lifetime, to try new tasks, and even to rethink and retrain mid-career.

60% think ‘few people will have stable, long-term employment in the future’.

New products and business models develop at lightning speed, far more quickly than regulators can control. Technology encourages the creation of powerful, like-minded, cross-border social ‘bubbles.

Businesses innovate to create personalization and find new ways to serve these niches. There are high rewards on offer for those ideas and skills that best meet what companies and consumers want. But in a world with few rules, the risks are high. Today’s winning business could be tomorrow’s court case.

73% think technology can never replace the human mind.

optimists believe AI could create a world where human abilities are amplified as machines help mankind process, analyze, and evaluate the abundance of data that creates today’s world, allowing humans to spend more time engaged in high-level thinking, creativity, and decision-making.

About the report

We are living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks, changing the skills that organizations are looking for in their people. But what will the future look like?

This isn’t a time to sit back and wait for events to unfold. To be prepared for the future, you have to understand it.

 ‘Workforce of the future’ study looks at four possible Worlds of Work for 2030 to help you kick-start your thinking. 

The four worlds of work in 2030

The red world – Innovative Rules

  • The Red World is a perfect incubator for innovation with organizations and individuals racing to give consumers what they want.
  • Digital platforms and technology enable those with winning ideas and allow for specialist and niche profit-markers to flourish. Businesses innovate to create personalization and find new ways to serve these niches.
  • But in a world where ideas rule and innovation outpace regulation, the risks are high. Today’s winning business could be tomorrow’s court case.

 The Blue World – Corporate is king

  • In the blue world, capitalism reigns supreme, it’s where bigger is better.
  • Organizations see their size and influence as the best way to protect their profit margins against intense competition from their peers and aggressive new market entrants.
  • Corporations grow to such a scale and exert such influence, that some become more powerful and larger than national economies. It’s a world where individual preferences take precedent over social responsibility.

The Green World – Companies care

  • This is a world where corporate responsibility isn’t just a nice-to-have but it’s a business imperative.
  • It’s characterized by a strong social conscience, a sense of environmental responsibility, a focus on diversity, human rights, and a recognition that business has an impact that goes well beyond the financial. Workers and consumers demand that organizations do right by their employees and the wider world.
  • Trust is the basic currency underpinning business and employment. Companies have to place their societal purpose at the heart of their commercial strategy.

The Yellow world – Humans come first

  • This is a world where workers and companies seek out greater meaning and relevance in what they do. Social-first and community businesses find the greatest success and prosper.
  • Crowdfunded capital flows towards ethical and blameless brands. It’s a world where workers and consumers search for meaning and relevance from organizations, ones with a social heart.
  • Artisans, makers, and ‘new Worker Guilds’ thrive.
  • It’s a world where humanness is highly valued.


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