Sunday, 16 June 2019 Sydney

Australians ready to embrace jobs of the future, says AIIA survey::

 “ICT and digital leaders must work proactively with governments and communities to develop practical strategies to build Australia’s digital literacy capabilities, to prevent social and economic dislocation,” said Rob Fitzpatrick, CEO, AIIA. “While history shows technology will add productivity and economic growth, our position paper is the start of what needs to be a broader conversation about developing an action plan to ensure Australians are adequately prepared for the jobs of the future and people are not left behind,” he added.

AIIA’s paper identifies technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and machine learning, and how they are impacting 10 key industry sectors; identifies the new types of jobs and roles that will emerge; calls out the skills required for jobs of the future; and raises priority policy issues relevant to planning and preparing for the workforce of tomorrow.

“Australians need a new narrative that demonstrates a future in which technology will improve the way we work and open up new opportunities and jobs. Alarmist views that mass unemployment is around the corner are neither helpful nor very realistic. But we do need a clear strategy to prepare us for the future and address issues such as what skills will be required, how we can develop them, and how we support those workers who will be displaced,” said Fitzpatrick.

“Our intention over the next 12 months is to work with a range of stakeholders, government and industry sectors to examine the issues we’ve raised in detail and ensure we make progress addressing these critical matters,” he added.

The position paper highlights that people will need a minimum level of digital skills to find employment in the future. Broadly this includes the ability to access and use information and digital content; communicate and collaborate through digital technologies; manage their digital identity; develop digital content; and use and protect their digital devices, personal data and privacy.

At the other end of the spectrum we need a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that can ‘create’ – not just ‘use’ – technology across all industry sectors. While the focus on STEM training is not new, if Australia is to be a global leader we need innovators who can solve complex problems across multiple disciplines. Additionally, the position paper highlights that non-STEM skills such as applied knowledge and people and personal skills will be equally important.

“Many jobs of the future will have an emphasis on creativity, flexibility, tolerance of ambiguity, as well as social intelligence and personal resilience and agility,” said Mr Fitzpatrick. “It’s vital that we educate people in both the hard skills, such as STEM, and the soft skills that will determine people’s ultimate success.”

Skilling up and reskilling Australia’s labour market will be one of the most critical factors in shaping the quality and resilience of our future workforce. The position paper argues for a clear  action plan focussed on priority policy issues such as digital inclusion; workforce transition; skills, education and training; and industrial relations. These are issues that both government and industry need to respond to.

The position paper is available here

The release of AIIA’s position paper coincides with its national survey that shows 97% of Australians are generally positive about future job opportunities and are ready to take charge of their futures. However, only one in four Australians attribute their positive outlook to the belief that government will develop the right policies in areas such as education and training.