According to a 2015 study by CEDA (an independent Australian research and policy development organisation), future modelling found that almost five million Australian jobs (or approximately 40 per cent of the workforce) are likely to be replaced by automation over the next 10 to 15 years
This information may be a little scary and lead a person to imagine a future workforce led only by robots and tech geeks, however; the flip side of this shows that the more digitally automated our workforce becomes, the more demand for human interaction is. This will increase the need for skills like empathy, with care and personal services becoming increasingly important.
The CEDA report also revealed that the ageing population will increase the need to keep older workers in the workplace to address skills shortages. As well, the benefits to our economy by increasing the participation of women in the workforce with child care reforms in focus to enable this.
Environmental impacts will also shape the future of our workforce. New roles in waste management, land and marine care, along with technical innovations to address urgent problems (think battery operated cars), will be in the forefront. Since COVID, the way we work is rapidly changing too, with many workers now preferring to work flexibly.
So what will be the jobs of the future?
There is no doubt the demand for digital and technical skills will increase, and this is across all industries, from agriculture to health care.
For instance, an automotive mechanic today is very different to ten or twenty years ago, with rapid development in battery run and the computerisation of cars.
With the rise of all things digital, the growing need for cyber-security has seen a huge demand for this industry; and we now see primary school students learning coding at a very early age, almost a second language for these ‘digital natives’.
As mentioned previously, with the increasing demand for digital skills also comes the demand for communication, empathy and social skills that drive the personal care industry and support our increasingly ageing population.
The Australian Government’s ‘Skills for Today and Tomorrow’ program has proposed hundreds of millions of dollars in funding over the next five years for boosting apprenticeship investments in areas of identified skill shortage such as but not limited to;
Agriculture and horticulture
Electrotechnology and telecommunications
Ambulance & Health Care
Aged & Disability Care
While these are broad industry professions, within them are opportunities for digital innovation, supporting services and consulting. Also mentioned in the CEDA’s report was the growing number of sole traders, particularly older workers who transition to working for themselves and offering specific expertise to support industry needs.
The takings from all this? Technical skills development for workers is essential but so too are soft skills like effective communication, emotional intelligence and empathy and this is across industry, not just in the care professions. For instance, agriculture in Australia is making huge changes to ensure animal welfare and environmental care.
With rapid innovation and adjustments to a post-pandemic society, it’s an exciting time ahead, that’s for sure!