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future of work

The future of work has arrived, so what next?

By Nicola Vass - 1st May 2018  |  Individuals , Workforces for the Future

The future of work is here. The introduction of automation and robotics into the workplace is a topic that’s on everyone’s minds. Thinking about this concept can stir up a range of emotions; fear, excitement, anger, anticipation… We all have our individual perceptions on how the future of work will affect us. Depending on our skills, we’ll all be affected differently. This blog will shed light on what we can proactively do to jump in to this new world of work.

Traditionally, a career meant that we’d stay in the same line of work throughout our entire lives. More recently, it’s become increasingly common for individuals to change careers several times throughout their lifetime. And the future of work is going to blow this number out of the water!

Technology driving the future of work

driverless car

New technology leads to more new technology, and we’re seeing this advancing at an unprecedented rate. Our world is changing quickly. Warehouses are now automated, driverless buses are starting to catch on, and we now have Sydney’s first robot receptionist.

This rapid change can be quite scary to think about, as well as being an amazing opportunity. To cope with this, we employees need to be more willing to adapt than ever before. We must keep our eyes and minds open so that we don’t miss opportunities to develop ourselves and ensure our value in the new world of work remains intact.

To get a better idea of which career paths will be most fruitful, we need to know which industries will be most affected. These industries will disproportionately impact some workers more than others; low skilled, low earners, and women. Sales, business and financial operations, and administration positions are all set to be disrupted by automation. These are roles that tend to be filled by women. Without taking action, this will result in net 2.5 million job losses in Australia. That is more than 5 jobs lost for every job gained. On the other hand, rapid growth is expected across IT, HR, and customer-facing roles. Jobs needing good people skills will continue to be in strong demand.

Research how jobs in your industry will change

With technological advancements now increasing at exponential rates, it’s important to keep up with how industries will evolve. Here are some additional resources to help get your mind around what skills will be highly sought after:

Re-skilling or up-skilling is always challenging. Particularly with the responsibilities we’ve got in our day-to-day lives; work, kids, exercise, leisure. We tend to see it as something that can always be done later, but the reality is, the use of automation and robotics in the workforce has already arrived. Now is the time to use this as an impetus and make your professional development a priority. You want to be in front of this change, not behind it.

mother with baby

Another interesting statistic is more than five million jobs have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years due to technological advancements. That’s almost 40% of Australian jobs that exist today! It’s important to note that although the introduction of automation will lead to a significant amount of jobs becoming obsolete, it will also lead to the creation of roles at a rate we’ve never experienced. As a result, the needs of employers will constantly be changing. But, there are certain human skills, capabilities and attributes that will always be required as they can never be replicated by machines.

Top 10 attributes you’ll need

According to the World Economic Forum, the top 10 attributes required to thrive in this future of work are:

  • Complex problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • People Management
  • Coordinating with others
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Judgement and decision making
  • Service orientation
  • Negotiation
  • Cognitive flexibility

INS is creating a program to develop these attributes that we will be offering to individuals and public sector organisations. It is critical that public servants continue to develop these attributes and become exemplars of the workforce of the future, today.

How Peter safeguarded his career

These types of career transitions aren’t easy. I’m sure we’ve all thought about it at one point or another but we’re usually too busy or too comfortable to make it happen. So here’s a real-life example which demonstrates that it can be done:

Peter MurrellThree years ago, Peter Murrell was working as an Business Intelligence Engineer. In a nutshell, Business Intelligence Engineers create meaningful reports from large sets of raw data using complex analysis software. Although this industry is currently not in grave danger of becoming obsolete, Peter recognised that it was changing, and that his career options were limited. The only progression available was to become a manager, which wasn’t a path that appealed (a common career frustration faced by technical specialists).

Industry changes

Peter saw that during the last five years the data management industry had been becoming increasingly important. After all, artificial intelligence heavily relies on data to make predictions. He conducted research on job sites, industry blogs, and among his colleagues, where he discovered the need for Data Scientists was significantly on the rise, and some BI roles were becoming automated.

Data Scientists work mainly with statistics, looking at data interpretation and management from a wide range of angles. They need to be able to communicate this information to various areas of the organisation, which is growing in importance to businesses worldwide. Developing himself into a Data Scientist seemed like a good career progression, aligned to Peter’s interests and the changing industry.

How Peter Upskilled

After much deliberation, Peter decided to take ownership of his career. He enrolled in a Master of Statistics course and took up ‘on demand’ Data Science related subjects which allowed him to obtain certifications within this field. Doing so has opened doors for Peter, allowing him to work for top organisations in any major city in the world. Today, Peter has followed his itchy feet and works in San Francisco – the core of this technology, following a number of job offers.

What will you do?

Ultimately the responsibility lies with us to take hold of our careers to ensure we’re equipped to adapt to the future of work. Employers should  be playing their part in ensuring that this transition is as smooth as possible. Employers can offer training in new skills and job transition, bring in outside experts to transfer skills to existing employees, and recruit staff with new skill sets to lead this transition.

As with employees, it’s critical for employers to keep in touch with technological advancements as innovation and agility will be an ever-present theme in the future of work. Previously, we’ve seen notable examples like Blockbuster which was once a multi-million dollar company, that failed to pay attention to the changing world that ultimately lead to their closure.

The future we’ve seen depicted in the movies has arrived. We can either choose to ignore it, carry on with our daily lives and hope for the best; or we can take control of our futures and start equipping ourselves with the necessary skills which will enable us to adapt. By viewing technology as an opportunity, not a threat, we will learn to embrace a future that will make life easier for us all.

So, take a moment to reflect: what are you doing to prepare yourself?


Written by Matthew Appassamy

Senior Career Coach

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