Jan 23, 2021 - Economy & Business

Jobs of the future turn green

Solar panel installers work in California.

Solar panel installers work in California. Photo: Mel Melcon/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Even "jobs of the future" have been derailed by the intensified pandemic, but positions in environmental services are still growing strong.

Why it matters: The economic carnage created by the coronavirus has curtailed job growth even in professions that seemed poised to expand in the future. As long as the pandemic remains out of control, the future of employment remains mostly on pause.

By the numbers: The consulting company Cognizant's Jobs of the Future Index — which charts openings in employment sectors affected by the digital revolution — fell by 5.6% in the last quarter of 2020, and declined by 35.3% for all of 2020.

  • Even jobs in sectors that seem certain to grow in the future declined, with openings in algorithms, automation and AI falling 37% over the year as companies froze business investment.

What they're saying: "To a certain extent, the jobs of the future have been postponed," says Robert Brown, co-manager of Cognizant's Center for the Future of Work.

The other side: One category that experienced continued growth in job openings even during the depth of the pandemic has been the environmental family.

What to watch: Whether openings in high-tech sectors like AI begin to pick up again, which would be a sign that businesses are out of survival mode and ready to plan the future.

The bottom line: Until we truly beat the pandemic, the future will be on hold.

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