Labour markets are evolving and adapting to technological advances, innovations in business and production processes and the emergence of new economic activities, the demand for new services and the data revolution. Global employment has been increasing for many decades now, and is expected to continue doing so at least in the near future. But where is this employment being created? Which sectors and occupations are growing? Where are jobs being lost?
Global trend of rising share of employment in services and high-skilled employment projected to continue
Data on employment by sector describe the main activity of the establishment where a person works or the activity contributing most to the value added of the entity (irrespective of the person’s specific duties or functions), while occupational data refer to the skills required in the job or position held. The employment distribution among the three broad sectors of economic activity (agriculture, industry and services) and among the main occupations provides valuable information on the degree and nature of economic development. Typically, as economies develop, the workforce shifts from a great concentration of employment in agriculture (mainly labour-intensive and with a low skill level), to increased employment in industry and then in services, while the distribution of workers across the skills spectrum shifts from a concentration of low-skilled workers to increasing shares of workers with medium and high skill levels.
Disparities in stages of development across regions evident in the shares of employment in services and high-skilled employment
The patterns and trends observed at the global level mask significant differences across regions. In fact, although the levels of global employment are clearly driven by employment trends in Asia and the Pacific (accounting for 58 per cent of global employment in 2017), it is mainly Europe and Central Asia and the Americas (and to a certain extent, the Arab States) which lead in terms of the largest shares of employment in services and high-skilled employment, typically associated with more advanced stages of development (see figure below). Africa and Asia and the Pacific are lagging behind in this regard, with 53 per cent and 29 per cent of employment in agriculture in 2017, respectively, compared to a world average of 26 per cent, and only 9 per cent and 15 per cent of high-skilled employment, respectively, compared to a global average of 19 per cent.
As the upward trend in the share of services employment and of high-skilled employment are projected to continue in all regions, the regional disparities are not expected to change significantly in the near future.