One set of jobs is expanding faster than any others: those in the care sector.
As demographics shift, with many countries facing aging populations, and cultural norms evolve, with more women entering the workplace, the demand for care is on the up. So-called “care” professions include childcare, eldercare, nursing, therapy, personal training and career coaching.
Almost 40% of all projected job opportunities in emerging professions will be created in the care sector between 2020 and 2023, according to a report on the jobs of tomorrow from the World Economic Forum.
“The growing demand for care services has the potential to generate significant job opportunities, while boosting labour force integration for informal caregivers and supporting new, more flexible ways of working,” according to a Forum white paper. “While care jobs are already a growing occupational sector, more work still needs to be done to ensure these jobs are high-skilled and fairly compensated.”
Ensuring there is adequate supply to meet demand for care has the potential to create millions of new jobs around the world, it said.
Care is one area where jobs are likely to be created, setting it against a wider trend in the labour market. More broadly, the world is facing a ‘double-disruption’ scenario, according to the Forum’s Future of Jobs 2020 report, as automation and the coronavirus redefine work.
While each country around the world has different demographics and differing needs, many have great care requirements.
The US, for example, has an aging population, with the share of those aged 65 or over expected to grow to 21% by 2050, from around 15% in 2015. Of those, about 70% will need “some sort of long-term care” during their lives, the Forum white paper said.
At the other end of the scale, the whole continent of Africa will remain relatively young for the foreseeable future.
And the focus on the care sector could have knock-on benefits, since many studies show women shoulder more unpaid care work than men.
“Since women are often the primary caregivers for both children and aging relatives, a robust care economy will enable their workforce participation, allowing businesses and economies to benefit from an expanded talent pool, especially given that women make up half of tertiary graduates globally, while creating a better gender balance in unpaid care.”
For individuals to flourish as workers and caregivers, policymakers need to consider how to help the care economy develop, the Forum whitepaper said. It suggested key areas for action and that more use should be made of technology.
“There is evidence of major gaps in funding, delivery and regulation, leading to suboptimal quality of care,” the white paper said. “Given the multiple economic and social pay-offs for families, businesses and entire economies, addressing this care gap through a robust, well-regulated care sector should be an urgent priority.”
Among the suggestions were recognizing and valuing care as a vital sector of the economy, making the roles in care more professional, rebalancing paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expanding care infrastructure and services and using innovative ways to fund and facilitate care.
Countries where innovations have been successful in financing and incentivizing care include Sweden, Germany, India, Netherlands, France and the US, the report said. For example, Sweden’s government invests in children and families, and its policies are designed to encourage gender balance in care, with the government adding a $1,915 “gender equality bonus” in 2008 to incentivize more equal take-up of parental leave.
“Renewed focus on closing gender gaps in labour force participation can drive further demand for care economy jobs, as can better quality standards in the care sector,” the Forum report said.
This article was first published in the World Economic Forum.