The information provided in the executive summary suggests that the areas with high physical proximity, such as medical and personal care, or customer and travel services, were disrupted by COVID-19. The experts predict the decline in the middle- and low-wage jobs, while the number of high-wage positions demanding maximum productivity of employees is expected to rise (Lund et al. 1). Moreover, the pandemic accelerated the trends for remote work, digitization, and automation, which might reshape some occupations in the long term (Lund et al. 1). The computer-based office and e-commerce jobs involving Artificial Intelligence (AI) and virtual interactions with clients or customers may replace frontline positions. The growth of e-commerce also increased the demand for long-haul transportation and delivery services (Lund et al. 10). Therefore, the findings reveal that the top five occupations for a future career will include remote financial/accounting management, digital education (teaching/training), long-haul transportation, civil engineering, and e-commerce consultancy.
The occupation trends discussed above will impact the preferable forms or levels of education. The experts estimate that about 107 million people, mostly low-wage workers (60-75%), will have to change occupations by 2030 (Lund et al. 16). The post-COVID-19 demand for high-wage professionals might suggest that the preferable forms of education will be a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. However, the growth of e-commerce and the stability of the outdoor production industry will maintain the need for drivers, delivery service workers, and civil engineers with a two-year college degree or a high-school diploma.
Low-wage job categories might decline by 2030, which will require workers without a college education to switch occupations and earn a degree to obtain the necessary skills. Nevertheless, several companies, including Hilton Hotels, Google, and IBM, removed degree requirements from their job postings (Lund et al. 20). Post-pandemic uncertainty will emphasize the need for flexibility and rapid measures, which can accelerate the demand for a two-year college/technical school degree as a short-term academic solution. Furthermore, institutions offering 4-year bachelor’s degrees involve higher costs of education and student debt in comparison with colleges and trade/technical schools. For example, the average student loan amount of 2-year associate degree completers is $19,700, while bachelor’s degree completers owe $31,800 (The National Center for Educational Statistics). Thus, the student’s choice of an institution will depend on the perspectives of the future occupation and the financial burden of the selected education provider.
Companies are likely to promote diversity and inclusion to minimize the devastating impact of the pandemic. The executive summary explains that business leaders may take equitable and innovative measures to hire and retain diverse groups and facilitate job transitions for employees (Lund et al. 20). To increase productivity and flexibility, employers will shift the focus from the job to the specific tasks or activities required at the moment. Thus, having the skill or the ability to learn it quickly will be more important than having a certain degree that might become obsolete or redundant in the future. Automation processes, AI technology, and the Internet used by companies to cope with the pandemic-associated disruptions might minimize the use of the human workforce in the future. For instance, the high-proximity customer service industry and manufacturing plants may replace the lowest-paid and least educated workers with robots (Lund et al. vi). Therefore, digital technologies and automation have the potential to cause labor displacement in hotels, restaurants, event venues, airports, and factories.
Lund, Susan, et al. “The Future of Work After COVID-19: Executive Summary.” McKinsey Global Institute, 2021. Web.
The National Center for Educational Statistics. “Fast Facts: Student Debt.” NCES.