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Work in an Age of Automation

As the machines working alongside humans continue to evolve, workers will need to adapt. That means that, instead of studying for two decades and working for the next four, workers will need to engage in continuous learning and adaptation, acquiring new skills and upgrading existing ones throughout their working lives.

WASHINGTON, DC/PARIS – From truck drivers using GPS systems to nurses recording patients’ vital signs to train conductors checking tickets with hand-held devices, everybody nowadays needs some basic digital skills. Demand for digitally savvy workers has been rising quietly over the last decade or more, but that shift is now gathering pace, and it is transforming the entire labor market, not just the tech sector.

In a recent report, the McKinsey Global Institute compares the number of hours workers currently spend using 25 core skills in five categories – physical and manual, basic cognitive, higher cognitive, social and emotional, and technological – to the number of hours they will spend on those skills in 2030. Unsurprisingly, given the wider use of automation and artificial intelligence, we expect a 55% jump in demand for all types of technological skills, from basic digital knowledge to advanced skills like programming.

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