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How To Future-Proof Your Career

The jobs of tomorrow don't exist yet, but this is what they'll look like.

16/01/2017 5:19 AM AEDT | Updated 16/01/2017 5:19 AM AEDT
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"Today's young people will need to develop their social interactions, their creative problem solving and their resilience to adapt to a constantly changing workplace."

In Australia, there are more than 3.7 million school students, around 1.5 million university students, and 1.2 million tertiary students in the vocational education sector. This means that more than 1 in 4 Australians are students and so for them, as well as the 12 million Australian employees, an understanding of the future of work is important.

They will be a generation of lifelong learners, having to plug back into education to upskill and retrain throughout their lives.

Based on the current trends, almost half of Australia's Year 12 students will end up with a university degree. While they will start their earning years later, they will live longer and work later in life than any previous generation -- on average, into their late sixties.

They will stay on average 1.8 years per job early in their career and average about three years per job over their working life. This means they will have 17 different jobs in their lifetime, across an estimated five careers.

They will be a generation of lifelong learners, having to plug back into education to upskill and retrain throughout their lives. They will also work very differently and will most likely, at some time in their working lives, be self-employed rather than just an employee.

This transformation has been accelerated in this era of online services such as Uber, Airtasker and Deliveroo and the rise of the "gig economy", allowing more of this generation to end up being freelancers, contractors or contingent workers than ever before. Recent research shows that a third of the national workforce currently participates in contingent work.

The past few years of disruption has shown us that any role that can be replaced by technology will be.

Some of the jobs today's school leavers will hold don't currently exist, just as mainstream jobs today such as app developer, social media manager, drone operator and cyber security professional didn't exist when they began their schooling. Already, working as a virtual reality engineer, cognitive computer expert, data visualisation designer, user-experience manager or medical nanotechnologist is nothing unusual.

The past few years of disruption has shown us that any role that can be replaced by technology will be. While technology is great for automating systems and replacing repetitive functions, it is not strong at adapting to complex change and engaging with people.

Therefore, to future-proof careers, today's young people will need to develop their social interactions, their creative problem solving and their resilience to adapt to a constantly changing workplace. In other words, by being collaborative, responsive and innovative, today's local students will be enabled to thrive in global careers, now and over the decades ahead.

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