Facing the Future of Work: What You Need to Know
A recent panel event – UTS Big Thinking: The Future of Work is Now – brought industry experts together to look at how the work environment is changing with new technological advancements and automation.
Below are the key takeaways for how you can prepare for the future of work, according to the experts.
How will automation disrupt the nature of work?
Automation is coming, but that doesn’t mean it’s always a bad thing. Maile Carnegie (Group Executive Digital Banking at ANZ) was a key proponent of this, highlighting that the predicted upcoming retirement boom, that could see Australia lose 6% of workers, will make automation necessary: “we actually need… a degree of automation just to enable us to maintain our standard of living”.
Automation isn’t really designed to get rid of work, it’s designed to reshape work
Prof Peter Flemming (UTS Business School)
But will automation lead to mass unemployment? According to Prof Peter Flemming (UTS Business School): “Automation isn’t really designed to get rid of work, it’s designed to reshape work”. In fact, these technologies are already opening up new career pathways and employment gaps in industries such as data science and computing.
How can you prepare?
New technical skills needed
To meet the future of work head on, students and workers will need to start considering the demands a technology-rich labour market will have on the skills they develop – both now, and into the future. There is a growing call for more technical skills across industry, with few currently responding to that call.
Carnegie articulated this issue, noting that the “talent battlegrounds” are being fought in areas such as “data, software development, [and] cloud computing”, leaving those with more “generic technical skills” behind.
WATCH: The future of work is now
When I hear ‘future of work’, I think about automation and higher order of work, but I think it goes beyond automation as well.
We’re going to move into removing a lot of the repetitive work we’ve traditionally done into automating that through machine learning and artificial intelligence.
But it’s going to enable us to go into the new area of innovation – this is where we’ll start bringing in how we interact in our physical, biological and digital world and bring it together.
Today we’ve been looking at the future of work, so this whole week has been part of a subject called Envisioning Futures.
We’re all going to be in the workforce, but we don’t know what that’s going to look like.
We’re really trying to better understand how emerging trends like automation, artificial intelligence and I suppose the work that we’re doing in a transdisciplinary team, how that’s going to affect the workplace.
I think the workforce is going to be impacted, and we can see that today with jobs being disrupted, and I think people need to think really hard about elements of their job that are routine and repetitive, and they’re going to be working increasingly alongside more and more technology, so it’s going to be important for them to understand that and basically turn towards continuous learning.
The more that we, you know, have a vision of the future and we bring it back, we realise a lot of what will happen depends on the decisions that we make now – it depends on governmental decisions, but also decisions that happen on a corporate level.
How are we going to handle innovation or what defines success?
Do we want to take risks, are we searching for money, are we searching for social value?
And those sorts of decisions have to come now, and they in turn will define the future.
I can’t wait for this generation of people to come into the workforce, because it’s actually going to give a real challenge to the leaders of the companies.
Because they come on all cylinders firing, they know exactly what they want to do and how they’re doing to make a contribution, and the current state at the moment is a lot of the leaders are not able to really grapple with what the futures are holding for their companies, and a lot of the answers are actually in the people of those companies, and it’s going to be important for the leaders to provide this climate of innovation to allow these people to speak and for this new cohort, when they join these companies, to be given a voice, and I think the answers will be there amongst these people and amongst the collaboration that will be happening.