The CSIRO identified six ‘megatrends’ over the coming 20 years in their 2016 report on Australia’s digitally enabled workforce and its implications. As would be expected of the CSIRO, those predictions are proving prescient as we move into the forecast spectrum. Full report available on link below.

What are the top six megatrends we are experiencing that are affecting our workforce?

1. The robots aren’t coming, they’re here

The explosion in device connectivity (2006 there were 2 billion, in 2015 there were 15 billion, in 2020 they predict 200 billion), data volumes and computing speed, combined with rapid advances in automated systems and artificial intelligence means that robotic devices can perform many tasks more quickly, safely and efficiently than humans.

2. Digitally induced flexibility 

Digital technology and the new world of ‘platform economics’ is changing employment markets and organisational structures.  Jobs of the future are likely to be more flexible, agile, networked and connected.

3. The era of the entrepreneur

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. This will require entrepreneurial skills and aptitudes.

4. Divergent demographics

Along with many other advanced and emerging economies, Australia’s population is ageing and life expectancies are growing. Retirement ages are likely to push back further and an organisation’s employee profile is likely to contain more diverse age groups and more diverse cultural backgrounds.

5. The rising bar

Increased use of automated systems is raising the complexity of tasks and requiring higher skill levels for entry-level positions. Income growth in Asia is associated with increased educational and skills levels, as well as growing competition for Australia’s labour force. Many low skilled jobs are being offshored or automated. The consequence is the likelihood of a raised skills and education bar for entry into many professions and occupations.

6. Tangible intangibles

Employment growth in the service industries, in particular education and healthcare, has driven job creation in recent times. This is likely to continue into the future as we move to a knowledge economy. Service sector jobs requiring social interaction skills and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important.

Below is the CSIRO summary of the four main implications, intended to inform individuals, communities, companies and government on planning for the future of a digitally enabled workforce.

…And what can we do about them?

New skills and mindsets are needed for the future

1. Education and training is becoming ever more important
2. New capabilities are needed for new jobs of the future
3. Digital literacy is needed alongside numeracy and literacy
4. The changing importance of STEM (whilst participation rates are in decline)

Attitudes and perceptions need to be changed

1. Aptitudes and mindsets to handle a dynamic labour market
2. Challenging perceptions and norms about job types

Divergent and vulnerable demographics need attention

1. Improving workforce participation in vulnerable demographics
2. Towards tapered retirement models
3. New models to forecast job transition requirements

New business models need understanding and adjustment

1. Improved understanding of the peer-to-peer (and freelancer) economy
2. For what types of jobs, tasks and industries does a freelancer model work well and where does it not work?
3. Should (and how should) companies transition from current arrangements to a more freelance workforce?
4. How is fairness (for both employers and employees) ensured by government regulators within a freelancer workforce which may be delivering a large volume of micro-transactions across jurisdictional borders?
5. What is the demand for offices and workspaces and what is the impact on the design and functioning of cities with a more agile, networked and connected population of portfolio workers?

The overarching implication is that, unlike the industrial revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries, as we enter the information revolution of the 21st century we are better informed and better placed to make decisions about the workforce and work-life we want to create.

Full report here 

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