What more than 32,000 people think about the future of work

(Credit: Unsplash)

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

Author: Victoria Masterson, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Almost 40% of workers think their job will be obsolete within five years, according to PwC’s Hopes and fears 2021 report.
  • Six in 10 are concerned about machines taking over their jobs.
  • Humans and machines are predicted to spend an equal amount of time on tasks at work by 2025, according to the World Economic Forum.

After a year that has had a huge impact on the world of work, and in which 114 million people lost their jobs, half of workers still feel excited or confident about the future.

But six out of 10 are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk and 39% think their job will be obsolete within five years.

The majority of people (77%) are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain, and 40% of workers have improved their digital skills during the pandemic.

These are among the findings of Hopes and fears 2021, a survey of more than 32,500 workers in 19 countries by professional services firm PwC which found workers want more digital skills, more inclusive workplaces, and greater flexibility.

a chart asking workers thoughts on the future of work
60% of workers are worried automation is putting many jobs at risk. Image: Hopes and fears 2021, PwC

Key themes

The survey touched on how people feel about job security, diversity and inclusion, reskilling, remote work and working for a purpose-driven organization.

Half of workers surveyed said they’ve faced discrimination at work linked to ethnicity, gender, class or age which led to them missing out on career advancement or training.

“If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite,” said Bhushan Sethi, joint global leader of PwC’s people and organization practice.

While not everyone has been able to work from home in the pandemic, the survey found that almost three-quarters of workers who can work remotely want a mix of remote and in-person working. Only 9% said they’d like to go back to their traditional work environment full-time.

PwC expects the offices of tomorrow to be more focused on spaces where teams come together to brainstorm, collaborate, and problem-solve.

a chart asking workers what their ideal working environment looks like
Most people expect a mix of remote and face-to-face working. Image: Hopes and fears 2021, PwC

Future of jobs

COVID-19 cost workers $3.7 trillion globally as working hours fell almost 9% in the last three months of 2020, compared with 2019, according to the International Labour Organization’s seventh edition of COVID-19 and the world of work.

The pandemic’s impact on work is explored in depth in the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020.

It found that automation, in tandem with the COVID-19 recession, was creating a ‘double-disruption’ scenario for workers, with technology adoption accelerating in some areas.

“By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal,” it said.

The report estimates that 85 million jobs may be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines, while 97 million new roles could emerge.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Climate action ‘both a priority and a driver of the decade’: Guterres

Finland is a world leader in clean energy. Here’s what’s driving its success

Trump’s Russophiles under investigation, Europe remains ‘en garde’

Syria war: executions condemned as violence continues ‘on both sides’ of border with Turkey

Now is the time to seize ‘unprecedented opportunity’ of the Sustainable Development Forum, says ECOSOC President

Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban; UN urges both sides to work towards lasting peace

EU and China in search of a win-win agreement through strategic cooperation ahead of the EU-China summit

‘Wind blowing in the direction of peace’ in Africa: UN Secretary-General

Harnessing the power of nature in the fight against climate change

Rule of law in Hungary: Parliament should ask Council to act, say committee MEPs

COP25: ‘Signals of hope’ multiplying in face of global climate crisis, insists UN chief Guterres

Council Presidency: Floundering with the EU 2014 budget

EU Banks still get subsidies from impoverished citizens

Century challenge: inclusion of immigrants in the health system

State aid: Commission approves €53 million public support scheme for charging stations for low emission vehicles in Romania

Is China about to launch its own cryptocurrency?

European Health Union: Commission publishes open public consultation on the European Health Data Space

Trade preferences boost developing countries’ exports to the European Union

These are New York Public Library’s 10 most borrowed books

Bank resolutions to remain a politically influenced affair

China in my eyes

5 charts that show renewable energy’s latest milestone

Making the move to more sustainable mobility – three steps for companies

This young activist explains how to change the world in 3 steps

Hungary’s emergency measures: MEPs ask EU to impose sanctions and stop payments

Telemedicine: union when the rule is isolation

International partners pledge $1.2 billion to help cyclone-hit Mozambique recover, ‘build back better’

Vulnerable young people must not be blamed & stigmatised for violent radicalisation

Scotland wants to create an ethical stock exchange (Post Brexit)

Addressing the Challenges of COVID-19 Vaccination

The future of the plastics industry is green

A clean energy future with hydrogen could be closer than we think

Human rights breaches in Guinea Conakry and Madagascar

Art, mental health and suicide: different strategies for increasing access to health services

As human genome editing moves from the lab to the clinic, the ethical debate is no longer hypothetical

How debt for climate swaps could spur a green recovery

The UN’s unyielding effort to tackle sexual abuse and exploitation: our quarterly update

Security Union: Significant progress and tangible results over past years but efforts must continue

Impact investing in Latin America and addressing the ‘missing middle’

Governments must take further action to boost job opportunities at an older age

EUREKA @ European Business Summit 2014: Innovation across borders – mobilising national R&D funds for transnational innovation in Europe

The world’s impact in a small Brazilian town and the increased demand for mental health

Long-term EU budget: The Union’s ambitions must be matched with sufficient reliable funding

Time to pay up: UN summit to push for development finance breakthrough

‘Great cause of concern’ UN chief tells Security Council, surveying ‘bleak’ state of civilian protection

How Islamic finance can build resilience to climate change

Further reforms in France can drive growth, improve public finances and boost social cohesion

The best companies to work for in 2020, according to Glassdoor

Countries must up their game to reduce low birth weights, warns UN-backed report

Libya: EU efforts should focus on protecting migrants, MEPs say

MWC2021 Launches New Initiative to Widen Access for Spanish Industry Professionals

One in three children do not get the nutrition they need

Largest joint UN humanitarian convoy of the war, reaches remote Syrian settlement

Is the EU denying its social character favouring a banking conglomerate?

Why the UN is investigating poverty in the United Kingdom

Sustainable fishing staying afloat in developed world, sinking in poorer regions

A comprehensive strategy for Eurozone’s long term growth gains momentum

Silk Road Unlimited

This is how Europe is helping companies and workers as the coronavirus crisis deepens

UN chief announces progress on committee to shape Syria’s political future

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s