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Tomorrow’s Digitally Enabled Workforce – CSIRO Report

By 20 June 2016No Comments

This report by the CSIRO examines probable futures for jobs and employment markets in Australia over the coming twenty years.


Why is now any different?

Whilst Australia’s workforce is continually changing the current period in history is characterised by a combination of forces likely to be associated with greater, faster and different transitions than previously experienced.

    CSIRO’s Response

Megatrends and Scenarios

The study has identified six megatrends for jobs and employment markets over the coming twenty years.

1. The second half of the chessboard
The explosion in device connectivity, 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. Porous boundaries
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 with growing life expectancies. 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.


    Informed decisions for planning

    Following is a summary of the main implications, which will help to inform individuals, communities, companies and government on planning for the future of a digitally enabled workforce.

      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)
    5.Aptitudes and mindsets to handle a dynamic labour market
    6.Challenging perceptions and norms about job types
    7.Improving workforce participation in vulnerable demographics
    8.Towards tapered retirement models
    9.New models to forecast job transition requirements
    10.Improved understanding of the peer-to-peer (and freelancer) economy


Purnima Kabra