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Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce: Megatrends

Here, we outline what the future might look like, by studying megatrends: major changes that occur slowly (over 5-20 years), affecting business and policy.

Welcome to part two in our four-part series, examining how the Australian workforce is changing and what we can expect between now and 2035. In part one, we summarised four main elements causing change. Here, we outline what the future might look like, by studying megatrends: major changes that occur slowly (over 5-20 years), affecting business and policy.

Artificial intelligence and automation

Artificial intelligence, computing speed and device connectivity are growing, not only quickly, but exponentially. As a result, about 44% of Australian jobs are at risk of computerisation or automation. In addition, the Internet of Things will continue to expand rapidly. In 2015, there were 15 billion connected devices worldwide (up from two billion in 2006). Intel expects this figure to reach 200 billion by 2020.

Data is likely to explode, too. In 2015, an average of 2.5 exabytes of data was downloaded per day. This is predicted to jump to 30 billion terabytes per year by 2035, meaning there will be a growth in demand for data analysts.

Freelancing and flexibility

Traditional employment markets and organisational structures are being disrupted by the peer to peer economy. It’s likely that more and more companies will function with a reduced number of full-time staff members while commissioning a greater number of freelancers to take care of particular tasks. Many jobs will become more flexible, but less secure. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of workers registered with American company Freelancer, an online platform, jumped from one to ten million.

An increase in entrepreneurship

Given that the number of stable jobs in major companies is likely to drop, increasing numbers of people will pursue an entrepreneurial career. Digital technology has reduced operational costs and enabled rapid growth. Between 2003 and 2007, the number of small businesses in Australia employing 1-4 people grew by 35%, before plateauing due to the Global Financial Crisis. From 2012-2013, small businesses provided 43% of all employment in Australia. According to a study conducted by Ernst and Young, Australia has one of the top five entrepreneurial ecosystems in the world.

Learn more

If you enjoyed reading this, keep an eye out for part three, which covers another three important megatrends.

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