Automation and advanced technologies will mean the loss of large numbers of jobs over the next few years, so CEOs need to address the issue of workforce retraining immediately, said business leaders gathered at the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos last week, Reuters reports.
Forrester, meanwhile, has predicted one-quarter of all job tasks will be assigned to "software robots, physical robots or customer self-service automation" by 2019. "Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve and this revolution is going to be ageless, it's going to be classless and it's going to affect everyone," said Meg Whitman, chief executive of Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
In his last interview as president, Barack Obama also advised Democrats to pay attention to job automation. "We, I think, probably have to be more creative about anticipating what’s coming down the pike," Obama said. "Automation is relentless and it’s going to accelerate."
A recent report from McKinsey predicted that replacing workers altogether could only work in less than 5% of occupations, but in Davos, the topic was a recurring theme. Business leaders see a significant change coming, and feel that governments, businesses and academic institutions need to need to transform how they develop workforces, and do so quickly.
Last week, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, also speaking at the World Economic Forum, said the tech industry should be investigating worker training programs and new models of education to rapidly retrain workers now so as to avoid mass layoffs as AI and automation begin to take over some jobs.