27th Feb 2016
Nearly half of Australian jobs are at risk of computerisation and automation, the Federal Government’s latest report on the future of the workforce has found.
In 20 years, you will probably be a casual worker and your office will be shared with strangers — that is if a robot is not doing your job.
- In the next 20 years, 44 per cent of Australian jobs are at risk of computerisation and automation
- All industries will be affected by automation
- More people will work in shared “co-working” spaces
- There will be even more casualisation of the workforce
- Careers in the service industry will grow with the ageing population
- Generation Z will need to be creative and entrepreneurial
Minister for Employment Michaela Cash launched the report in Sydney yesterday, which found 44 per cent of Australian jobs were under threat.
She said it was time to “embrace the change”.
“We can either be dumped off our surfboards into the sea by future waves of innovation, or we can aim to catch the crest of each wave and surf it into an exciting and prosperous future,” Senator Cash said.
The CSIRO and the Australian Computer Society wrote the report, Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce, and one of the paper’s authors — Andrew Johnson, the CEO of the Australian Computer Society — said all industries were going to be affected by automation.
“We have an economy in transition and we need to upskill our current workforce to they can anticipate the jobs of the future,” he said.
The report found there would be more demand for people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics knowledge in future.
They are the sectors with the biggest increases in job numbers and wages.
But the supply of Australian students interested in those subjects is not meeting demand.
“One of the key findings of the report is we need to focus on entrepreneurism, innovation, giving our kids the ability to go and create their own jobs in the future, rather than having the expectation that big business will be there when you leave university or leave school,” Mr Johnson said.
Gen Z encouraged to be creative, entrepreneurial
The report predicted more people would work in shared “co-working” spaces.
It also said there would also be even more casualisation of the workforce.
In the US, a third of people are independent or freelance workers, and the report suggested that trend would be mirrored in Australia.
Andrew Maynard, the director at the Risk Innovation lab Arizona State University, said the report’s findings were nothing new.
“It’s important, but we’ve seen both this trend in an emphasis on innovation and especially an emphasis on digital technologies for some time now,” Mr Maynard said.
“So in the States there’s been a very heavy emphasis there.
Most 15 year olds are going to have up to 17 different jobs in five different industries … and in order to be prepared for that kind of working life … they’re going to need to … have a very broad based, what we describe as enterprising skill set.Foundation for Young Australians CEO Jan Owens
“The World Economic Forum recently focused on what they’re calling the fourth industrial revolution, which captures this, but they’ve been looking at trends in job markets in particular as a result of this changing technology landscape.”
With the growth in the ageing population, careers in the service industry are expected to grow.
There will be a bigger demand for health care and social assistance jobs, as well as in the education, training and the creative sectors.
Nearly two thirds of Australia will become dependent on the labour force by 2046.
Neer Korn, a social trends researcher, said employers needed to be more open to taking on older workers.
“The older employees that are coming forward, about one in five employees, workers, will be over the age of 65,” he said.
“And the older employees recognise this and they want to remain useful and talented and work, however we’ve got a problem in terms of convincing employers to give them a go.”
As for the kids in Generation Z, those born between 1995 and 2009, the report said they were going to need to be creative and entrepreneurial.
The non-profit group Foundation for Young Australians recently found that 60 per cent of Australian students were training for jobs that would not exist in the future.
Chief executive Jan Owens said there was a disconnect between the skills young people are training for and what the market wants.
“Most 15 year olds are going to have up to 17 different jobs in five different industries,” he said.
“And in order to be prepared for that kind of working life, which is very, very different to their parents or their grandparents, they’re going to need to … have a very broad-based, what we describe as enterprising skill set.”