It is no secret that the job paths and skills of young Australians are about to experience significant change, moving away from routine, manual tasks into a world of automation and critical innovation. This great shift in the working order has seen a change in priorities both at work and in career trajectories, with an increasing number of young people being left behind as the working world moves forward.
We will be increasingly focused on some tasks, while others are projected to occupy less of our time. It is also estimated that there will be greater opportunities for career variance, with workers becoming less likely to progress up the ranks in one job. So, what is in store for the workforce of the future?
What tasks will we be doing?
The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) report on the future of work, New Work Smarts, predicts that the workforce will become less about manual, routine tasks and more geared towards responsibilities that are people oriented and involve high levels of problem solving and critical thinking. The report estimates that we will spend 30 per cent more time learning skills on the job; almost 100 per cent more time solving problems; 41 per cent more time using critical thinking and judgement and 77 per cent more time utilising science and mathematic skills.
How will the ways in which we learn, think and do change?
FYA uses the concept of New Work Smarts to describe how we can adapt to the changes taking place in our working environments. Through the three metrics of smart learning, smart thinking and smart doing, the report highlights how management and organisational coordination in the workforce will make way for a greater focus on problem solving, critical thinking and communication.
Smart learning: continuous learning will become a key part of our working lives – we will have some level of engagement with learning on a daily basis. Continually learning and refining our skills will help us respond to information and technology in new and innovative ways, while also helping to direct on-the-job decision making.
Smart thinking: we will need to embrace a different way of thinking in the workplace – workers will morph into problem solvers and efficient communicators with sound enterprise skills. There is also predicted to be a greater emphasis on STEM skills, with strong foundational knowledge of mathematics, science and technology being important in an increasingly digital-literate society.
Smart doing: the way things are completed in the workforce will also face change, with the emergence of a greater focus on flexible and independent labour. FYA’s report suggests that this entrepreneurial mindset will be key in adapting to workplace changes. The way we perform work will also shift – the world of work will become less about acquiring and knowing, and more about how you apply your skills to certain situations.
Job clusters will overtake defined career paths
The shape and structure of career paths are changing, with the traditional paradigm of staying in one profession for the duration of a working life becoming increasingly outdated. The report predicts that today’s young Australians will have up to 17 different jobs across five careers throughout their lifetime, meaning that focus needs to shift from gathering job-specific skills towards gaining a general pool of capabilities that can be utilised in multiple occupations. These portable skills equip workers with the capacity to transfer from one profession to another within a broader job cluster, strengthening employment prospects in an increasingly automated world. New Work Smarts highlights that working and training in one job can accrue skills that are relevant in up to 13 other occupations, meaning that we are often skilled for more jobs than we realise.
How will my job change?
The University of New England has collaborated with economic modelling firm AlphaBeta to create the ‘Future of Work Predictor’. As the name suggests, you can find out how much your current job tasks, prospects and wages are set to change by 2030. You can predict the future of your job here.