The challenge

Why is now any different?

While Australia's workforce is continually changing the current period in history is characterised by a combination of forces likely to be associated with greater, faster and different transitions than previously experienced.

Our response

Megatrends and scenarios

The study has identified six megatrends for jobs and employment markets over the coming twenty years.

Report cover image with report title in black and a image of a laptop on a desk next to a stack of books.

1. The second half of the chessboard

The explosion in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed, combined with rapid advances in automated systems and artificial intelligence means that robotic devices can perform many tasks more quickly, safely and efficiently than humans.

2. Porous boundaries

Digital technology and the new world of ‘platform economics’ is changing employment markets and organisational structures.  Jobs of the future are likely to be more flexible, agile, networked and connected.

3. The era of the entrepreneur

The ideal job within a large organisation may not be awaiting an increasing number of future job seekers. This means individuals will need to create their own job. This will require entrepreneurial skills and aptitudes.

4. Divergent demographics

Along with many other advanced and emerging economies, Australia’s population is ageing with growing life expectancies. Retirement ages are likely to push back further and an organisation’s employee profile is likely to contain more diverse age groups and more diverse cultural backgrounds.

5. The rising bar

Increased use of automated systems is raising the complexity of tasks and requiring higher skill levels for entry-level positions. Income growth in Asia is associated with increased educational and skills levels, as well as growing competition for Australia’s labour force. Many low skilled jobs are being offshored or automated. The consequence is the likelihood of a raised skills and education bar for entry into many professions and occupations.

6. Tangible intangibles

Employment growth in the service industries, in particular education and healthcare, has driven job creation in recent times. This is likely to continue into the future as we move to a knowledge economy. Service sector jobs requiring social interaction skills and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important.

The results

Informed decisions for planning

Following is a summary of the main implications, which will help to inform individuals, communities, companies and government on planning for the future of a digitally enabled workforce.

New skills and mindsets are needed for the future

  1. Education and training is becoming ever more important
  2. New capabilities are needed for new jobs of the future
  3. Digital literacy is needed alongside numeracy and literacy
  4. The changing importance of STEM (whilst participation rates are in decline)
  5. Aptitudes and mindsets to handle a dynamic labour market
  6. Challenging perceptions and norms about job types
  7. Improving workforce participation in vulnerable demographics
  8. Towards tapered retirement models
  9. New models to forecast job transition requirements
  10. Improved understanding of the peer-to-peer (and freelancer) economy

Download a copy of the report

Dr. Stefan Hajkowicz

The main conclusion we draw from this study is that we’re entering into a period of rapid technology fuelled disruption of labour markets. A lot of jobs are going to be extinguished by technology but a lot of new jobs are going to get created. There is opportunity and risk here. And all of the jobs we do are going to be reshaped by technology as well.

The challenge is working out how to differentiate and plugin your skill sets, with all this advanced technology that makes you more employable not less employable in the future. So there are transitions that are coming and we’ve just got to get on the front foot and start making those transitions. The report covers a lot of other material.

The report covers the ageing population and changing demographics, which is going to influence the workforce. The report looks at the rising skillsets and capabilities right across Asia, and the Internet connection that plugs us into them is going to bring those skillsets in competition with our own. The report looks at the peer to peer economy, the rise of the freelancer and portfolio worker who may have multiple employers. And the report also looks at the importance of entrepreneurial activity and innovation in tomorrow’s labour market - where a lot of people, that job is just not there waiting for them they’ve got to create it themselves.

So the report covers what the future might look like, and it's to help policy makers and industry and government make wiser choices about how to build the workforce Australia needs and wants.

Renee Leon

So the world of work is changing in many ways, and we want to make sure that Australia’s ready for the changes that those developments are going to bring. It’s an exciting time facing these changes.

Often people worry that our jobs are all going to be replaced by machines. But I see the future as one where people get to do exciting fulfilling creative work, while machines do the jobs they they’re best able to do. I think the main thing is to make sure that people aren't left behind, so we need to make sure that we are equipping people with the skills that they need for new jobs, so this about having a future focussed strategy that the Australian Government can support and that our community can be aware of, so that we are ready to take advantage of the opportunities of the future.

Andrew Johnson

As the peak body for the IT profession in Australia, we have a responsibility to identify the occupations and the skills needed to ensure a prosperous future for the country. Ensuring we have enough digitally literate workers in the future is a key challenge.

It's not just technical skills however we also need to focus on professional skills, in entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation. How to bring technology products to market. And we need to focus on developing our local IT ecosystem and invest in that particular area. Its very difficult to imagine any new business product or service, that either won't be delivered digitally, or use technology to platform and scale very quickly. Now is a time of exciting opportunity for new businesses. The report also clearly identifies priorities for governments, creating a framework which allows Australia to prosper in the future

Brad Noakes

We were delighted to work with CSIRO on this report, as we see the coming digital revolution in Australia as being full of challenges and opportunities for the country. As the report shows, megatrends are driving an accelerated and fundamental change in business, government and society. By 2035, in Australia, 73% of jobs will be substantially impacted by automation and artificial intelligence.

Over the next twenty years, the job market in Australia is going to become much more dynamic, with a much higher rate of job destruction and job creation required. In fact, our view is that the rate of job destruction is going to be as high as it was during the GFC, but for a much longer and sustained period within Australia. This report will give insight into what individuals, businesses and government need to do to manage through the digital revolution. It’ll change the way we manage our own careers and the choices that we make for our children.

Patrick Maes

If you look at the challenges and opportunities of the digitally enable world, it certainly needs collaboration. And really collaborate in solving these fundamental challenges we have identified in the study. I think it's a foundational piece, it doesn't give answers to all the challenges. It’s a framework to take this subject further, and really start thinking about what are the implications from a policy making perspective.

Not only policy making on government, but also policy making in terms of what has to be done at university level but also industry level and how can we really take this forward and help Australia evolve into a knowledge based economy.

Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce

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