Will Two Billion Jobs Disappear by 2030?

Futurist Thomas Frey makes bold prediction about technology's impact on the job market

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Will two billion jobs disappear by 2030? Futurist Thomas Frey seems to think so. During a recent talk at TEDxReset in Istanbul, Turkey, he predicted 50% of the jobs worldwide would disappear over the span of the next 18 years. In the U.S. we have already seen manual labor jobs outsourced to other countries. As we move towards a knowledge-based economy, menial/manual labor jobs will continue to trend in this direction. This is especially true for clerical and office support jobs, due to technology like online faxing services and mobile applications. These technologies allow businesses to manage many traditional administrative services with less human intervention. Although just theories, Frey’s ideas are quite intriguing and lead to an interesting discussion about where the job market is going in terms of the jobs to be lost and the employment opportunities that will emerge to replace those positions.

The Industries Most Likely to Be Impacted

During his talk, Frey discussed five industries that will see the most job loss in the coming years due to technological advancements, but we’ll focus on the following four: (1) automobile transportation, (2) education, (3) 3D printing, and (4) bots.

Automobile Transportation

Driverless technology already exists and goes by the legal name of “autonomous car.” It is currently only legal in one state Nevada, but the Google Driverless Car project is working to help expand the adoption of this technology.

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Eliminated:

  • Elimination of taxi, limo, bus, mail and truck drivers, as well as FedEx and UPS delivery jobs
  • Reduction in the number of manufactured vehicles and shifting to transportation-on-demand systems

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Created:

  • Delivery dispatchers
  • Automated traffic architects, engineers, and designers
  • Driverless “ride experience” people and operating system engineers


The movement of open courseware education was popularized by iTunes U. Now there’s Khan Academy and MIT creating models for established universities and organizations that want to provide education for anyone anywhere.

Thomas Frey’s Theory of Jobs Eliminated:

  • Elimination of teachers, trainers and professors

Thomas Frey Theory of Jobs Created:

  • Coaches, course designers and learning camps

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  • Jon Hawkins

    I believe technology in multiple disciplines will continue to be disruptive, as well as, innovative as it has been for the past forty plus years.

    Some technology will become utilities, and , some will become novelties. I do believe technology will become more personal in use and be used to help people that handle people on a personal level, such as, teachers and healthcare professionals.

    Besides, as far as predicting the future of tech goes, I’m still waiting to see my 20xx Toyota Camry Low Level Flying Saucer, on the showroom floor!

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  • drclairenelson

    It is equally possible that  Frey may be wrong simply because he has not included the cultural and social and economic realities of most of the world in his assumptions.  I do not think communist China will allow robots to replace workers to the detriment of social order e.g. The uprisings in Arab world and Europe are  in large part due to the HIGH numbers of unemployed youth.. As a futurist,  what is critical for all of us Black intelligentsia is to construct our own Futures Think Tank.. Unfortunately our many  of our HBCUs seem logged down in the glory of the past.
    Dr. Claire Nelson
    Ideation Leader