news According to StartupAUS, an advocacy group for startups, up to 4.6 million Australian jobs may be at risk within a decade if Australia fails to create a future-ready workforce.
The group raised the issue in a discussion paper, titled Economy in Transition – Startups, innovation and a workforce for the future, released yesterday.
The paper, which was produced in partnership with Sydney-based startups Expert360 and CodeCamp, as well as LinkedIn, suggests that most jobs face some threat from the arrival of technological advancements such as automation, however startups and tech firms will generate “forward-looking” jobs based on new technologies.
StartupAUS CEO Alex McCauley said that, for every job in “high-growth” tech companies, up to five “tangential jobs” are created.
“The paper highlights the extensive economic benefits of building innovation hubs which have powerful multiplier effects. There’s a lot at stake here – if we get it right, we’ll be able to capitalise on it,” McCauley said.
The paper’s findings reveal the “very real need” for Australia to maintain its momentum on innovation and startup policy, he said.
“We have two new portfolio Ministers who will be getting across these issues very rapidly and in a very focused way. This paper highlights the need for that urgency and focus,” said McCauley.
According to StartupAUS, LinkedIn data included in the discussion paper suggests that 16 of the 20 most “in-demand” skills in Australia currently are technology related. Further, workers with a combination of entrepreneurial, STEM, creative, and social skills will be in increasingly high demand to support Australia’s growing innovation ecosystem.
Despite this need, Australia has a “profound talent shortage” within the STEM field, said the group.
To combat this, the paper outlines specialised immigration as a “crucial part” of brining vital skills into Australia’s workforce, as well as innovation hubs in major cities to help attract this international talent.
The paper’s author, Colin Pohl, said: “In the US, approximately 34% of the workforce is already made up of independent workers and we expect this to increase significantly and for a similar trend to be reflected here in Australia.”
“Many corporate jobs require specialised skills that are not required on a permanent basis, and infrastructure support for freelancers will facilitate an increasing number of workers operating across a portfolio of briefs based on their specialised talent,” said Pohl.
The discussion paper also shows new business models have created opportunities for independent workers, with studies showing a “substantial increase in contingent work” both internationally and in Australia, StartupAUS said.
The group said: “[B]y fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, nurturing a workforce with a forward-looking skill set, and establishing the infrastructure to support innovation we can be well-positioned to ensure the future of work in Australia is a bright one.”
Nick O’Donnell, APAC Head of Public Policy for LinkedIn, commented: “A crucial factor that will influence the strength and stability of the global economy will be governments’ willingness to set policy levers that encourage entrepreneurism, risk taking and innovation; in doing so allowing a vibrant start-up community to flourish.”
Some of the themes discussed in the paper will be included in the third annual StartupAUS Crossroads Report to be released in October 2016.