As more jobs become automated, companies are looking for employees who can essentially manage the machines doing the work. Where an employee used to be responsible for, say, feeding a panel onto a conveyor belt, now that employee is increasingly expected to work with coworkers to solve any problems that arise when the machine doing the job malfunctions.
That requires good communication, critical-thinking, and time-management skills, and schools that used to focus strictly on technical instruction like welding now find themselves adapting curriculum to include more of these so-called “soft skills.”
The world’s workforce is set to lose some 7.1 million jobs between 2015 and 2020, in large part because of automation. But the WEF also anticipates a rise in demand for some specialties, like mechatronics, that didn’t even exist a decade or two ago; it suggests that some 65 percent of children in primary school today will ultimately hold jobs that don’t exist yet.