Report outlines the digitalisation ‘megatrends’ shaping Australia’s employment future


news A new report has outlined the “megatrends” shaping the future of employment in Australia and highlighted the importance of education across the jobs spectrum.

Authored by the Australian Computer Society (ACS) in conjunction with CSIRO, Data61, ANZ Banking Group, the Commonwealth Department of Employment and Boston Consulting Group, the report (which you can download online in PDF format) also identifies the importance of digital literacy to the future job prospects of Australian workers.

Minister for Employment and Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash, who launched the report in Sydney late last week, said: “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 added.

The report, entitled Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce, outlines a number of scenarios and trends the author organisations feel will shape the jobs landscape in the Australian economy.

The report identifies the future needs of a digitally skilled workforce and offers analysis of the challenges that will need to be faced.

The report’s so-called ‘megatrends’ each relate to a single influence on the workforce, and are based on research carried out CSIRO and Data61.

The trends specifically address factors such as the exponential growth of technology, the shifting nature of the labour market in a sharing economy, the rise of entrepreneurism, the need for greater demographic inclusion, and so on.

A supporter of the report, CTO of ANZ Banking Group Dr Patrick Maes, welcomed the findings, saying: “Digitisation of our society is being driven by changing customer expectations, accelerating technology development and evolving industry structures and participants, with some mega trends identified in this report becoming evident.”

The transition from a “two-speed”, mining-boom fuelled economy to a digital economy will be wide-reaching and will affect jobs across the whole society, he added.

“Intense” collaboration between government, academia, start-ups and corporates will be required to help build capabilities and industries and create opportunities, Maes said.

“This isn’t a story about jobs disappearing. It’s a story about jobs changing,” commented report author Dr Stefan Hajkowicz. “We are entering into an era of rapid technology fuelled disruption that will reshape the landscape for businesses and people’s careers.”

He further predicted that job seekers of the future need to develop skills, capabilities and aptitudes which complement, but don’t compete with, artificial intelligence, computerised systems and robotics.

“That’s the idea behind a ‘digitally enabled workforce’,” he said. “It means a workforce where computers are increasing the productivity of workers giving them better and more rewarding careers along with increasing the productivity of the Australian economy.”

This report goes on to demonstrate that digital skills will be a requirement, not only in the technology space, but in almost every job in the next 20 years.

Andrew Johnson, CEO of the ACS, commented: “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.”