Date posted: 23/02/16 4 min read

The Future of work: how can we adapt to survive and thrive?

The future of work is uncertain but we need to be ready and willing to adapt to new circumstances and learn new skills.

in brief

  • Creative destruction means that technology will both create and destroy jobs.
  • Skills, training and education are increasingly important but can lose relevance quickly.
  • Harnessing diversity and global mobility will be increasingly important to business success.

Four mega-trends will shape the policy, social and economic environment in coming decades.

  • Globalisation
  • Digital disruption
  • An ageing population
  • Peer to peer economy

Will these mega-trends destroy jobs or create them? Technology will lead to a reduction in job opportunities, for example, through automation. However, technology can also provide opportunities to create new jobs, for example, the growing field of data analytics. Routine jobs can often be done more efficiently and accurately by computers so are more likely to disappear, whereas tasks that require creative or lateral thinking are the least susceptible to automation.

As the labour market transitions, many will have to reskill, retrain or change jobs. This has significant impact on education, which becomes even more important in a knowledge economy. Many employees will continue education formally or informally throughout the course of their careers. Individuals need to be proactive in managing their careers and consider more carefully what they want from their working life and how these goals can be achieved.

Globalisation means that to compete as a “virtual global worker”, employees in the Australian labour force will have to consider how to differentiate themselves. This may be through offering a unique combination of skills, a different perspective, strong personal brand, or a well-developed network.

Increasingly, diversity in the workforce will be important. Teams of mixed gender, age, ethnicity and sexual orientation can offer a wider range of perspectives and experience, which generally improves overall business decision making and problem solving.

These big changes in the employment landscape mean that it is important to be prepared. To inform discussion Chartered Accountants ANZ has worked with Deloitte Access Economics to survey over 1,400 Australian labour market participants, the results of which are available in The future of work: How can we adapt to survive and thrive?

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