According to a recent report by CEDA – the Committee for Economic Development of Australia – more than five million of Australia’s current jobs may have disappeared within 10 to 15 years. That’s almost 40 per cent of our total jobs which puts us on the verge of massive change to say the least.
This recent research suggests the whole world is facing a new but very different industrial revolution with the reality that we will experience significant job losses due to computerisation and automation. But is it something to fear? It’s not all doom and gloom, with new jobs emerging as current ones disappear and ways to prevent obsolescence.
Consider these statistics – in 1900, one in four Australians were employed in Agriculture – in 2015, jobs in Agriculture account for just 2% of all Australian jobs – that’s one in 50! Likewise, manufacturing accounted for 28% of the workforce in 1970, fast forward just 45 years and that’s down to around 7%. In our dynamic and globally competitive economy, lost jobs in declining areas are usually made up for in new ones because innovation drives new ways of doing things and new demand in different areas.
We know that technological advancements have been reshaping the way we work for many years, with increasing computer capacity and the ability for machines to replicate the work of humans. We have already experienced automation and job losses in many areas and we are now seeing areas previously deemed impossible to replicate with machinery almost becoming reality. For example, driving is no longer considered a task that will always require human intervention, with Google recently patenting a driverless car.
Even where humans can’t be replaced altogether, automation is impacting speed, productivity and efficiency, which is reducing the amount of human intervention required. One certainty for the years ahead is that employment will continue to be affected by evolving technology. This means employees need to be able to work with technology as a basic requirement, but they also need to understand that technology will likely replace many tasks, and eventually jobs, that we previously thought would always require a human touch. We simply don’t know where technology will take us – the past 20 years have seen the internet, broadband, mobile and social networks cause disruption to existing businesses. Examples include online travel booking and review sites shaking up the tourism industry; the advent of streaming music and video content replacing DVD/CD purchase and rental; the creation of Uber as an alternative to traditional taxis; and online shopping replacing traditional retail shopping for many consumers.
For the foreseeable future at least, there are some areas that will not succumb to technological replacement. So where should we be looking?
- Healthcare & Aged Care – our ageing population will place demand on healthcare workers of all kinds – including nurses, doctors, physical therapists, home care aids, and other medical professionals.
- IT – so much technology that we use every day did not exist 20 or even 10 years ago. Computers, the Internet, and Smartphones have changed much of our daily lives. As technology continues to develop, so too will the demand for professionals to leverage it.
- Data Analysts – companies are collecting information at a rate never before seen. Computers can only do so much with the data – large corporations need people to conduct complex analysis and conceive innovative ideas to drive business growth.
- Marketing – increasing competition particularly from global competitors as a result of the Internet will drive demand for smart, innovative and creative marketing people that understand digital and social media. The use of predictive analytics to predict trends and customer needs will also increase – driving demand for marketing people with strong IT and technical skills.
- Content Creators – as a result of increasing global competition and a focus on ‘educating’ customers rather than simply ‘selling’ to them – content is king. People who can write compelling and engaging content for use on websites, blogs, newsletters, e-books, whitepapers, and special reports will be in demand.
- Financial Planners – unsettled economic times and reducing government budgets for pensions and other support means individuals and businesses need sound financial advice to secure their futures.
These are just some of the many areas of growth that we can expect in the coming years. As a job seeker, or someone whose industry is already declining, it is important to remain flexible and optimistic. Industries, careers and jobs can change rapidly but by embracing this changing world and constantly learning new skills, you will survive.