Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce: Implications

We outline predictions for Australia’s workforce over the next 5-20 year for individuals, communities, companies and governments.

This is the fourth and final part of our four-part series on predictions for Australia’s workforce over the next 5-20 years. Part one was an examination of elements causing change, while parts two and three looked at megatrends, including growth in automation, artificial intelligence, freelancing, entrepreneurship, the need for STEM education, healthcare and education, as well as Australia’s ageing and increasingly diverse population. In this section, we outline the implications for individuals, communities, companies and governments.

  1. Education and training will become crucial, as low-skilled jobs are increasingly replaced by computerisation and automation.
  2. Future workers will need skills that enable them to work alongside artificial intelligence, rather than compete with it. Such skills include emotional intelligence, high-level reasoning, creativity and judgement.
  3. Digital literacy is just as important as numeracy and literacy.
  4. Skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are becoming increasingly necessary to employment.
  5. Employees will need increased adaptability, flexibility, resilience and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to cope in an insecure, rapidly changing employment market.
  6. Ideas about gender norms might need to change. For example, 9/10 Australian nurses are women, while 9/10 Australian electricians are men. Given that healthcare is a growing sector, more men might think about taking on caring roles.
  7. Vulnerable demographics need attention. For example, the number of men of working age who are unemployed has doubled since the 1970s.
  8. A tapered retirement model could be effective. This means keeping ageing members of the population in work longer but gradually reducing their workload.
  9. Companies and governments need to put more time and resources into predicting relevant changes. This involves predicting which jobs will become obsolete and which will be created, then providing the individual with pathways for a transition.
  10. A deeper, broader understanding of the peer-to-peer economy and freelance working models needs to be developed. Which fields are suited to freelancing and which aren’t? Is it right for companies to shift towards a freelance-based workforce and how should they do it? How can the government ensure fairness for employers and employees? How does freelancing impact demand for workspaces?

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