Australia's Future Is Digital, Agile, And Full Of Robots, New Report Finds

27/02/2016 4:36 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Australia’s future workplace is digital, agile ... and potentially full of robots, a new trend-predicting report has found.

The analysis, from the CSIRO’s data innovation department Data61 and industry bodies including the Australian Computer Society (ACS), outlines a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions which together mean the makeup of the country’s workplace is shifting faster and more dramatically than ever before.

These conditions include steep growth in computing power, an ageing population, and a post-mining boom economy that is transitioning into the exportation of innovation and knowledge, not coal and uranium.

From this maelstrom of shaping factors, the authors of the report into the future have come up with six ‘megatrends’ they think will shape Australia’s places of work over the next 20 years.

Among them is the idea that Australians will have to make their own job in the future, as the demand for multiple skills blurs lines between career paths.

mining western australia

As the resources boom draws to a close, Australia looks set to progress into a knowledge-based economy

“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,” the report says.

It’s a trend that’s clearly taken hold in the U.S., where one in three working Americans is an independent worker already. Sites like Freelancer, Ozlance, and Airtasker also make it easier than ever to pick up work online without ever having to step foot in an office.

And of course, one possibility predicted by the report is a future workplace full of robots.

“There is a future where the promises of artificial intelligence come to fruition and the vast majority of human tasks are performed better, faster, more safely and more cheaply by robots.

“This highly automated workplace creates job opportunities, and requires skills, very different from those that exist today.”

What this means for us mere mortals is a higher bar of entry when it comes to getting into skills and professions, the report says, as less technical jobs become automated.

And if you’re in a STEM course, you’re probably in the money -- as the knowledge gained from a STEM education will help net you those high-paying jobs in the future, the authors say.

science australia university

STEM graduates are well-placed for the jobs of the future

Federal Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash launched the report in Sydney on Friday.

“The report has provided us with a deeper insight into the changing landscape of our workforce, brought about by huge technological shifts. How Australia’s workforce fares in the long term will depend on our ability to help workers make transitions to new and better jobs. Our biggest challenge will be to ensure no-one is left behind,” she said.

ACS chief executive, Andrew Johnson, said more digital education was needed to fully realise what the report predicted.

“What is becoming abundantly clear is the need for better education in the technology space. This report shows us that digital skills will be a requirement not only in the technology space, but in almost every job in the next 20 years,” he said.

“If we are able to drive a greater focus on education, we will develop an economy that is driven by highly skilled, digitally literate workers. We can, and must, be at the cutting edge of innovation, especially in the creative and knowledge economies. This report provides us with a range of challenges that need to be addressed, and we look forward to meeting them.”

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