At least half of people who have a job fear they’ll lose it in the next 12 months

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Gayle Markovitz Editor, World Economic Forum


  • New survey shows more than half of working adults fear for their jobs.
  • But two thirds of workers are optimistic about retraining on the current job.
  • Employment concerns and perceived opportunities to learn new skills varies greatly between countries.

A new Ipsos survey, conducted on behalf of the World Economic Forum, shows that more than half (54%) of working adults fear for their jobs in the next 12 months. However, these workers are outnumbered by those who think their employers will help them retrain on the current job for the jobs of the future (67%).

The size of the gap between optimism about reskilling and pessimism about job losses depends on where you live.

The COVID-19 crisis has accelerated trends towards automation and the use of artificial intelligence. Jobs will certainly go – but new ones that require different skills are emerging.

In parallel, governments are considering the longer-term labour market implications of maintaining, withdrawing or partly continuing the strong crisis support they are providing to businesses to cover wages and maintain jobs.

The result, is a disrupted labour market and uncertain prospects for 2021.

Fear of job losses

The survey of 12,000 employed adults from 27 countries finds that of the 54% who are concerned, 17% are “very concerned” and 37% “somewhat concerned” about losing their job.

Job-loss concern in the next year ranges from 75% in Russia, 73% in Spain, and 71% in Malaysia, to just 26% in Germany, 30% in Sweden, and 36% in the Netherlands and the United States.

Image: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

Prospects to train on the job

The survey also finds that two thirds of employed adults say they can learn and develop skills needed for the jobs of the future through their current employer: 23% are “very much able” to do so, and 44% “somewhat able”.

Across the 27 countries, the perceived ability to learn and develop those skills on the job is most widespread in Spain (86%), Peru (84%), and Mexico (83%) and least common in Japan (45%), Sweden (46%), and Russia (48%).

Image: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

From job-loss pessimism to reskilling optimism

The countries where those who can gain new skills on the job outnumber those who are concerned about losing their job by the largest margins are the United States and Germany (by 40 percentage points).

In reverse, job loss concern is more prevalent than perceived ability to acquire skills in Russia (by 28 points) and, to a lesser extent in Malaysia, Poland, Japan, Turkey, and South Korea.

Image: Ipsos/World Economic Forum

A reskilling revolution?

The forthcoming World Economic Forum 2020 Future of Jobs report will reveal how employers are motivated to support workers who are displaced from their current roles, and plan to transition many of those workers from their current jobs into emerging opportunities. Jobs

What is the World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit?

The World Economic Forum’s Jobs Reset Summit brings together leaders from business, government, civil society, media and the broader public to shape a new agenda for growth, jobs, skills and equity.

The four-day virtual event, being held on 20-23 October 2020, comes as the world seeks a way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The coronavirus crisis has further disrupted the world of work after years of growing income inequality, concerns about tech-driven job displacement, and rising societal discord.

The Summit will develop new frameworks, shape innovative solutions and accelerate action on four thematic pillars: Economic Growth, Revival and Transformation; Work, Wages and Job Creation; Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning; and Equity, Inclusion and Social Justice.

Rather than narrowly focusing on short-term savings from layoffs or automation, therefore, businesses that invest in human capital will find that there is a compelling financial and nonfinancial business case to reskill at-risk workers.

An earlier report by the World Economic Forum suggests that human capital is a crucial asset of any business. It highlights how in an age of ubiquitous technology, it is human skills, creativity and capability that will form the competitive edge for any organization. Financing and implementing a “reskilling revolution” is a critical investment for business, workers and economies alike.

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