'Friend-shoring' and the future of globalisation, the advantages of apprenticeships, how the Metaverse will change the world of work, and providing workers with purpose. Here's your recap of top work stories from the third day of Davos 2022.

Addressing inequalities for workers around the world was high on the agenda on the third day of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in the Swiss mountains. The gender divide in particular stood out for the Adecco Group’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Valerie Beaulieu.

Since 2020, numbers of women in the workplace have plummeted and experts have predicted it could take a generation to restore the female workforce to pre-pandemic levels. The employment loss for women in 2020 equates to a loss of roughly US$800 billion in earnings for women globally. Rather than losing ageneration of women in the workplace, “in the context of talent scarcity, we have an imperative to address this issue and get women back to work,” Beaulieu said.

To do this, flexibility can help, “but it cannot, alone, tackle deep-rooted issues such as the gender pay gap, workplace discrimination and women’s lack of representation in higher-level positions,” said Beaulieu. Other key parts of the puzzle include upskilling, addressing bias, and technology, specifically the Metaverse – more on this later.

Here are the five biggest work-related stories from today’s discussions.

1. The positives of globalisation, and the rise of 'friend-shoring'

In the midst of ongoing shocks to the global economy, what hope is there for global growth in the future? Experts discussed possible solutions in a sessionon Wednesday morning with globalisation emerging as an unlikely force for change.

Improvements to supply chain resilience and domestic policies to support those “left behind” by globalisation are desperately needed. But there is also a strong argument for more of the international collaboration that has helped bring more than a billion people out of extreme poverty in the last three decades. “If you do want to build resilience to the kinds of shocks we're seeing around the world, you need greater diversification,” said deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath. “That greater diversification actually comes with more global trade, not less.”

US Secretary of State Gina Raimondo made a similar point when she said that we couldn’t "throw the baby out with the partner” and give up on global trade. Days after the US announced the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework to bolster trade and cooperation, she acknowledged the concept of “friend-shoring,” saying “we have to work with our like-minded allies who share our values.”

2. Skills do more than just pay the bills

The number one challenge for businesses today is getting the talent they need, and finding that talent in 2022 means adapting to a constant need for upskilling. “We all lose about 40% of our skills every three years,” explained Alain Dehaze, CEO of the Adecco Group.

“We need to permanently and constantly reskill and upskill to avoid becoming obsolete.” Japan is 10 years ahead of the rest of the world in terms of talent scarcity - before the pandemic the country had 1.6 jobs per candidate, now it is down to 1.3. For tech profiles, however, the number rises to 9 to 10 opportunities per candidate. “This is why, in Japan, we hire thousands of people that we up and reskill in our training centres for the needs of the job”.

One solution is hiring candidates who may not be entirely ready for the job then providing them with training and skills. In other words, creating apprenticeships. “The countries and the companies with an apprenticeship model are the best in class regarding innovation, production and access to talent,” Dehaze said. “An apprenticeship has also the ability match, in real time, the demand and supply of skills.”

3. The Metaverse will change your working world...

Some 42% of business leaders already believe that the metaverse will be ‘transformational’, and the technology is already set to revolutionise aspects of the world of work such as communication and collaboration. "I'm very excited that probably in the very near future, we'll wear light glasses – not big helmets – and you will feel like you are in the room with your Japanese colleague and you’ll speak your home language and they will understand you,” said Valerie Beaulieu.

The metaverse also presents huge opportunities in recruitment and onboarding, which are crucial in the context of the current worker shortage.

The Adecco group has been piloting virtual onboarding for forklift drivers. “You can do that through VR and we can get them to work in half the time,” Beaulieu said. “We’re very excited about using the technology for accelerating the skilling and reskilling of employees.”

4. ….and help create real remote connections that foster equality

“It’s not the space or the place that creates culture, it’s people,” said Ellyn Shook, Accenture's Chief Leadership and Human Resources Officer during the Adecco Group’s discussion on The Impact of Talent Scarcity on The Future of Work. “In the last year we have onboarded over 100,000 people in the metaverse, and the sense of connection and tearing down geographic boundaries has been extraordinary."

A shared virtual space could do more than just connect colleagues normally separated by geography. It could also help tackle the gender gap - which won't close for 135 years, according to the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap report.

“People want to stay working from home, especially women who we know are four times more likely than men to work from home,” said Valerie Beaulieu. “That technology could be an opportunity to really have everyone on an equal footing in the interaction as if you are in real life... I'm very excited about it as an opportunity to be very inclusive in the way we work together."

5. The search for purpose is driving workers to quit, providing it could make them stay

Was the Great Resignation more of a great reshuffle? Experts in a panel on Wednesday afternoon argued that rather than simply quitting the workforce, millions of workers have been changing jobs.

The motivating factor behind this great migration is a search for purpose at work, especially for younger generations – and providing this purpose could also be the key to worker retention. “People, especially Gen Z, are looking for strong purpose, allowing them to make impact in the society,” said Alain Dehaze, CEO of the Adecco Group. “[Companies] have to demonstrate with real facts how you embody your purpose so that people are willing to join you and stay with you.”

Of course, many workers are also looking for greater flexibility that will allow for work life balance. “Society, policy and regulation has to be reinvented according to a need of the current society,” Dehaze added, saying that workers should not have to “bargain security for flexibility.”

We don’t want you to miss out on any of our insights, research or news. Create a personalised alert to ensure that you get the information you want direct to your inbox. If you have already registered and wish to change your preferences, login here

I am interested in:

Please read the Terms of Use, Privacy and Cookie Policy


News and Research