What is the future of work?

Video source: Job Active's jobsearch.gov.au

There are many trends changing the way Australians work, including new technologies, shifting demographics and globalisation. Discussions about the future skills needed for our workforce attracts interest from all areas of society, especially by those deciding on a career, advising on careers or providing the jobs that build careers.

The Australian Government is working to ensure it has the right mix of skills in the economy, so that all Australians benefit from the opportunities arising from the changing world of work.

Early debate into the future of work predicted a ‘jobs apocalypse’. Some estimates suggested more than 40 per cent of jobs would be replaced by technology. Recently, a growing body of research is informing the conversation, and we are seeing more moderate estimates that suggest around 10 per cent of jobs in Australia are at high risk of automation, and a further 25 per cent are at risk of significant change.

The key challenge in this new jobs landscape is preparing Australians to adapt as skills and tasks within jobs change and as new jobs are created. It will be important for everyone to continue to develop a set of skills which they can use in many jobs throughout their working lives.

Test your knowledge

Here are some quick quizzes to test your knowledge. After you have submitted your selected answer, a graph will appear with the most popular responses. The correct answers can be found at the bottom of this page.

“Digital innovation” refers to new digital technologies and services and the innovative ways of doing business that they enable. Examples of these technologies include autonomous robots, artificial intelligence, remote sensors, and the basic informati
1. Over the next decade, how much do you think digital innovation could be worth to the Australian economy?

Technology and work

Technology will continue to impact on the way we work. While it is true that technology will make some jobs redundant, it will also create new ones. Importantly, technology will have a significant impact on the way all jobs are done. Jobs are increasingly likely to rely on knowledge and thought rather than manual labour. Routine tasks will be increasingly automated, and both labour intensive and knowledge intensive jobs will become less repetitive.

Therefore, rather than causing a mass loss of jobs, research suggests technology is changing the way people undertake specific tasks within jobs. Technology like artificial intelligence (AI) can automate simple repetitive activities, while the tasks that require critical thinking or the ability to solve uncertain problems will remain.

Both workers and employers will need to adapt to changes within jobs to manage the impacts of technology.

Source: Stop talking about the future of work, EY, 2019
2. How prepared are employers in effectively forecasting future skills requirements?

New career opportunities through technology

Many new jobs today require a mix of skills such as technical, software, business, creative and social skills. For example, a User Experience designer, or UX designer makes sure products are useful to customers in terms of branding, design, usability and function, with the role requiring research, software, marketing and design skills.

It is likely that new forms of work will continue to emerge as technology changes. It can be difficult to face uncertainty, and skills such as flexibility, adaptability and resilience will become more important as work environments change. Having a portfolio of transferable skills that can be used in many jobs will help people more readily advance and move between jobs.

Source: Deloitte, The path to prosperity, 2019.
3. Of the following four choices, which of the following occupations will be the most in demand in 2030?

Technology and career planning

In addition to changing the way we do our work, technology is helping people plan their careers in a more targeted and effective way. The Australian Government is using data to build practical tools to help Australians understand and adapt as jobs change.

One example of this is the Job Outlook website's Skills Match tool. This tool considers your existing skills and work experience and provides a list of possible careers, including information about pay and education requirements.

The National Careers Institute is looking at ways to deliver better careers information through a new digital platform in 2020. Contribute to the discussion on the Delivering better careers information page.

Answers: 1. $315 billion 2. 56 per cent 3. Clerical administration workers