These are the key takeaways on jobs and skills that came out of Davos 2023

(Credit: Unsplash)

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

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • The future of work, jobs and skills was firmly on the agenda at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos.
  • From the need to nurture people as assets, to the skills gaps we need to address to accelerate the energy transition, here are some of the key takeaways.

As Davos 2023 got under way with record numbers of more than 600 CEOs attending, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched its latest report – World Employment and Social Outlook: Trends 2023.

“At the global level, employment growth is slowing down,” ILO Director-General Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo told a Davos press conference on the Future of Jobs.

The ILO projects 1% employment growth in 2023 – and expects productivity to go down.

“Multiple crises, including the war in Ukraine leading to inflation, are putting pressure on real wages, particularly for low-skilled workers who are at risk of losing their purchasing power.” ”— Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, ILO Director-General

The ILO is also concerned about the “quality of jobs”, and there’s a geographic split in how things are playing out.

In the Global North, there is a recovery in terms of the number of hours worked – or jobs compared to pre-COVID. But the new jobs being created in the Global South are in the informal sector, which has a lack of social protection.

Dealing with these emerging trends and others in the world of work this year was the subject of key sessions during Davos 2023. Here are some of the main takeaways:

Invest in people – as an asset, not a cost

The challenges of our world will be solved by people, said Denis Machuel, CEO of Adecco Group.

“Investing in people … at all levels of the organization right up to the front line is critical.”

“When people are secure, they demonstrate more resilience … you get more engaged people, and more engaged means more productive.””— Denis Machuel, CEO, Adecco Group

The single-biggest competitive advantage that any company has is the strength of their workforce, said Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal, echoing Machuel.

“Are they passionate about what they’re doing, are they dedicated to the company and do they have a semblance of physical health, mental health, as well as financial health?

“As CEOs, we need to at least measure the financial health of our employees, because if they’re financially stressed then we’re sub-optimizing how successful we can be as companies … We have the moral obligation to take care of our own employees.”

Overview of deficits in decent work and social justice, 2022 or latest year available

The world of work in numbers in 2023. Image: ILO

The clean energy transition opportunity

Demand for green skills is outstripping supply, said Allen Blue, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Product Management at LinkedIn.

The social media platform has seen a 90% increase in job postings for the renewables sector, but only a 70% increase in the number of people who have those skills.

“As we break ground on things we need to do to mitigate climate change, how do we meet that demand?”

He sees the clean energy transition, fuelled by the US Inflation Reduction Act and the European Green Deal, as an opportunity for jobs growth and reskilling.

“There is a parallel to be drawn between the demand we are seeing for green skills and what we saw in the technology boom.” ”— Allen Blue, Co-Founder and Vice-President of Product Management, LinkedIn

For the jobs market, it means higher wages because big companies will pay more to get the talent they need. Companies working in tech are willing to hire based on skills alone, and skip questions about degrees – because they need the people, they’re willing to look beyond the normal things they’d pay attention to.

However, green skills are concentrated in the Global North, so Blue says there is a need for infrastructure investments in the Global South that include training and skilling.

Employers as educators and talent creators

To attract and retain talent, companies now have a responsibility to educate and upskill workers, said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture.

This also means looking beyond traditional degrees and offering apprenticeships, but technology is key to enabling companies to be their own talent creators.

“We’re living in one of the best moments in history to actually be able to create systems that allow the lower skilled to have good jobs and to allow countries to be able to flip when they need to.””

“The disruption we’ve gone through and the technology advancements we’ve gone through mean that to thrive in the next decade, companies and countries have to be able to access talent, be talent creators and unlock that talent. That often means being a more diverse place.

“You have to be able to create talent, there are not enough skills in the world that we need.”

Accenture in US has 2,000 apprentices in professional services, up from 5 in 2025, Sweet said. “The key to being able to reskill at scale starts with technology,” she added.

The US invested $380 million in apprenticeships in 2022, said Martin J. Walsh, US Secretary of Labour.

Connectivity is crucial to education and reskilling

To enable equitable access to jobs and skills throughout the world, there has to be equitable access to technology.

“If we want to democratize education, we have to put an emphasis on making sure that anybody who can and wants to, can connect to some sort website,” said Hadi Partovi, Founder and CEO of

AI can have a role to play too.

“AI can create a more equitable society if used right … Reskilling is the most important part of this,” said Mihir Shukla, Co-Founder and CEO of Automation Anywhere.

Reports and jobs announcements at Davos 2023

Just ahead of Davos, the Forum launched its whitepaper, Jobs of Tomorrow: Social and Green Jobs for Building Inclusive and Sustainable Economies.

It finds that, in 10 countries, social jobs represent 11% of the total workforce. But to meet inclusion and social mobility goals, these countries will need 64 million more social jobs – an increase of 37%.

The green workforce is much smaller, however, representing just 1% of total employment in those 10 countries. But to meet environmental goals, an additional 12 million, or 66% more, green jobs are need.

During Davos, the World Economic Forum announced that more than 350 million people are being reached with better skills, jobs and education through commitments made as part of its Reskilling Revolution initiative, three years after launching.

Working with more than 20 governments, 60 global CEOs and a network of over 350 organizations, the Reskilling Revolution is preparing 1 billion people for tomorrow’s economy and society by 2030.

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