Protiviti-Oxford Survey: Executives say emerging technologies will add jobs over the next decade

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March 2022

IN BRIEF

  • A staggering 88% of global business executives say AI will be key for a “radical transformation” of their company over the next decade.
  • Surprisingly, despite the current environment, 84% of executives believe employee loyalty will increase over the next decade—a number that reaches 95% among North American leaders.
  • Globally, 70% of business leaders expect their companies will be embracing a hybrid working model in 2032, up from 22% pre pandemic.

It’s probably not surprising that emerging technology’s role in the future of work, the workforce and workplaces is top of mind for global business leaders; what is surprising is nearly three quarters (74%) of those executives believe digital and emerging technologies will add jobs and increase the size of their workforce over the next decade.


That should help allay some of the fears of workers that emerging technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, will be job killers in the future. The data, among the key findings from the University of Oxford-Protiviti survey, suggest business leaders expect those technologies will lead to more jobs, not fewer, in 10 years’ time. The VISION by Protiviti report, “Executive Outlook on the Future of Work, 2030 and Beyond,” highlights current and future of work trends, ranging from human capital and employee engagement to AI and the emerging technologies driving digital transformation.

A staggering 88% of global business executives say AI will be key for a “radical transformation” of their company over the next decade. When asked about the specific technologies that will drive radical transformation and growth, “artificial intelligence and machine learning” took the top spot, followed by “system integration” and “autonomous robots.”

Meanwhile, the vast majority of executives surveyed expect emerging technologies to cause a fundamental shift in the type of work employees will be doing in a decade. Some 86% say the types of jobs employees will perform in the future will be different from today—a figure that remains unchanged based on where a company is headquartered globally.

The Great Resignation and Talent Retention

Business leaders also responded to questions about another dominant trend: talent retention amid what’s been commonly referred to as the “Great Resignation” or the “Great Reshuffle.” Retention and turnover remain a top concern among executives (83%) worldwide. That number jumps to 95% in North America versus 71% of Asia Pacific business leaders. Europe, meanwhile, mirrors the global number.

Surprisingly, despite the current environment, 84% of executives believe employee loyalty will increase over the next decade—a number that reaches 95% among North American leaders.

While they remain optimistic about retaining talent, executives are less so when it comes to finding and securing skilled workers to fill open roles in the future. When queried, 86% expressed concern about a potential shortage of qualified workers over the next 10 years. In North American, that number jumps to a jaw-dropping 97%; among Asia Pacific executives, it dips to 75%. Once again, Europe settles in the middle.

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AI can ease some of the pain of finding talent; 85% of global executives say AI and automated recruitment processes will become more important for hiring over the next decade. That’s not the only traditional HR function that will get a boost from AI, as 76% say they expect the automated delivery of training based on artificial intelligence to improve the skills of their employees in the future.

How, When and Where We’ll Work

Not surprisingly, executives say where and how we’ll work in 2030 and beyond will be vastly different. Pre pandemic, some 78% of global employees worked in a company office location. By 2032, executives expect that number to be down to 30%. In North America, those numbers are 95% and 31%, respectively—down 61 percentage points. Globally, 70% of business leaders expect their companies will be embracing a hybrid working model in 2032, up from 22% pre pandemic.

While the changes in how and where we work will be dramatic, maybe not so much the when. Largely, executives say the standard work week could remain largely unchanged in the future. In what could be seen as a reaction to the pandemic and the current lack of a consistent work week, nearly two-thirds (66%) of leaders think the standard work week—defined as five days and 40 hours in the survey—will be more prevalent a decade from now. That number increases to 78% among North American executives.

Most executives are also keen on the idea of having new employees in a more traditional office setting, citing “efficiency”, “collaboration” and “more effective outcomes” as the biggest advantages to working side-by-side with colleagues.

Meanwhile, perhaps surprisingly, 57% of business leaders say they will mandate how, when and where employees will work in 2032. Considering the flexibility that many employees have had over the last two years, it seems someone is in for a rude awakening.

SUBSCRIBE to the VISION by Protiviti newsletter and receive your exclusive copy of the Oxford University & Protiviti Key Findings: Executive Outlook on the Future of Work, 2030 and Beyond.

70%

Globally, 70% of business leaders expect their companies will be embracing a hybrid working model in 2032, up from 22% pre pandemic.

Dr. David Howard, Director of Studies, Sustainable Urban Development Program, University of Oxford and a Fellow of Kellogg College, Oxford. He is Director for the DPhil in Sustainable Urban Development and Director of Studies for the Sustainable Urban Development Program at the University of Oxford, which promotes lifelong learning for those with professional and personal interests in urban development. David is also Co-Director of the Global Centre on Healthcare and Urbanization at Kellogg College, which hosts public debates and promotes research on key urban issues.

David Howard
University of Oxford
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Dr. Nigel Mehdi is Course Director in Sustainable Urban Development, University of Oxford. An urban economist by background, Mehdi is a chartered surveyor working at the intersection of information technology, the built environment and urban sustainability. Nigel gained his PhD in Real Estate Economics from the London School of Economics and he holds postgraduate qualifications in Politics, Development and Democratic Education, Digital Education and Software Engineering. He is a Fellow at Kellogg College.

Nigel Mehdi
University of Oxford
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Dr. Vlad Mykhnenko is an Associate Professor, Sustainable Urban Development, University of Oxford. He is an economic geographer, whose research agenda revolves around one key question: “What can economic geography contribute to our understanding of this or that problem?” Substantively, Mykhnenko’s academic research is devoted to geographical political economy – a trans-disciplinary study of the variegated landscape of capitalism. Since 2003, he has produced well over 100 research outputs, including books, journal articles, other documents, and digital artefacts.

Vlad Mykhnenko
University of Oxford
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