Investment and Innovation in Agriculture, Education and Energy Will Drive Jobs and Growth

Two new World Economic Forum reports published today show how improved public-private collaboration can drive investment to build new markets and create high-quality jobs while making progress towards societal and environmental goals.

The research, based on a survey of 12,000 global executives, finds that agritech, edtech and energy-related technologies are seen by businesses as the most strategically important over the next 10 years in over 120 economies. It also finds that 76 million additional jobs are needed by 2030 in green and social sectors including agriculture, education, health and energy.

The reports – Markets of Tomorrow Report 2023: Turning Technologies into New Sources of Global Growth and Jobs of Tomorrow: Social and Green Jobs for Building Inclusive and Sustainable Economies – call on government and business leaders to double down on deploying technologies to create the markets and jobs of tomorrow.

From new technologies to markets of tomorrow

Markets of Tomorrow examines the technologies and sectors that are set to create new sources of growth. It draws on more than 12,000 responses from over 120 economies to the World Economic Forum’s Executive Opinion Survey.

It finds that agricultural technologies are considered the most strategically important technologies for economies in the next decade. Ranging from low-tech irrigation methods to precision agriculture and farming drones, emerging agricultural technology is unleashing efficiency gains, boosting agricultural output and creating new green jobs.

Education and workforce learning ranks second, where emerging digital tools and platforms, including metaverse learning, artificial intelligence and ubiquitous computing, are driving innovation. The sector is experiencing an accelerated rollout of education technologies after the COVID-19 pandemic caused a historic loss of education globally.

Finally, power storage and generation technology scored third in the global ranking, reflecting the increasing urgency of transitioning to low-carbon energy systems. Battery and other storage technology holds the key to integrating renewable energy generation at scale into energy grids globally and this represents a significant area of current innovation and investment.

These findings are generally consistent across low-and high-income economies, with four of the top five priority technologies shared across all income groups. However, climate change mitigation technology strikes a notable difference, ranking as the most important technology in high-income countries but eighth across all other income groups.

From markets of tomorrow to the jobs of tomorrow
In parallel, new World Economic Forum analysis, in collaboration with Accenture, finds that an additional 76 million jobs in green and social sectors are needed by 2030 across 10 economies alone: Australia, Brazil, China, Germany, India, Japan, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. Highlighting the wider job-creating potential of proactively building the markets of tomorrow, Jobs of Tomorrowquantifies for the first time the number of green and social jobs needed to help create socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable societies.

Social jobs, defined as occupations within education, healthcare and care, represent 11% of the total workforce in the 10 assessed economies. But the report finds that countries will need to increase the number of social jobs by 37% by 64 million to make progress on inclusion and social mobility goals. Occupations with the greatest unmet need are personal care workers in health services (18 million), childcare workers, teacher aides and early childhood teachers (12 million) and primary and secondary education teachers (9 million), each sector with vast potential to be supported and augmented by technology while centralizing the role of deeply human skills and traits. Currently, the greatest unmet need is in South Africa, followed by Brazil and Spain.

To meet the goals of a green transition, a labour force with green skills will be essential. But green jobs, currently represent just 1% of the surveyed workforces. An additional 12 million green jobs are needed to make progress on environmental objectives, representing a 66% increase on current numbers. Green jobs with the greatest unmet need include agricultural, forestry and fishery workers (11 million), environmental construction roles (80,000), and environmental, civil and chemical engineers (70,000), with South Africa, China, the United Kingdom and Brazil experiencing the greatest shortfalls.

Rethinking investment, industrial policy and purpose-driven public-private cooperation

Skills and talent, infrastructure and initiative from the public sector are cited in as the three biggest bottlenecks to creating the markets of tomorrow. At the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023, taking place on 16-20 January in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, leaders will discuss how to create the investment needed across advanced, emerging and developing economies to build the markets of tomorrow and boost their job-creating potential.

“In the current economic and geopolitical context, a short-term and crisis-driven approach towards economic policy risks becoming permanent. Instead, to leap forward, leaders must align on a new growth and jobs agenda and governments must enable wider private sector interest and innovation towards these shared goals. Too many new technologies continue to serve niche markets – with the right investments and incentives they can unleash prosperity for those who need it most,” said Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director at the World Economic Forum.

Leaders will discuss public and private sector alignment on long-term strategic goals for purpose-driven market creation, good jobs and re-starting higher quality growth. Key coalitions at the Annual Meeting will include the Jobs Consortium, a coalition of leaders championing investment in “good jobs” for economic recovery and the Market Creators Alliance, a coalition of businesses and public sector leaders working together to design and pilot principles for fairer and more effective public-private partnerships for innovation and industrial policy.