Judy Sahay

Thought Leaders & Game Changers

Change is coming and it’s pushing young Australians out of the workforce. Learn how to prepare yourself for the digital revolution.

We all know that technology is advancing at a rapid rate, but is it actually outrunning us? The Foundation for Young Australians has recently released a report to say that our country’s youth may suffer from the hasty progression of technological advancement, with the majority of jobs people are studying for likely to be filled by robots rather than humans. The statistics found should be enough to alarm most young Australians who are looking to finish study and enter the workforce soon, with almost 60% of students studying for jobs that will be replaced by automated machinery within the next 10 to 15 years. The CEO of the Foundation for Young Australian, Jan Owens, said that the changes to the job market would be the biggest since the Industrial Revolution as we make way to accommodate the changing technologies.

Whilst we might be thankful to the Digital Revolution for some of the changes it has facilitated and them improvements it has made to our quality of life, the effects haven’t been positive for everyone. Over the last 25 years, automation has started rolling out in factories across the country, effectively displacing over 500,000 workers in the last quarter century. For many of these workers, the chance to find new employment is the increasingly digitised sector has been an impossibility. Labourers have been the hardest hit, and 1 in 10 male labourers have been ejected from their positions without later returning to the workforce.

It’s the automation that we take for granted now that has been the cause of this displacement, and has led to a loss of jobs for those practicing a trade, technicians, labourers, machinery workers, and even secretaries and clerks who have been replaced by computers. Whilst plenty of people have learned to adapt to the change and the business world has continued to evolve with new technology, young Australians have yet to completely catch up with the change.

The problem is that the focus in schools is not on areas that are adaptable across a range of professions. Attention needs to be drawn to communication skills, creativity, innovation, and digital literacy, as the general consensus develops that coding will become a necessary language to learn if you hope to enter the workforce in the near future. Being digitally literate is what will give people an advantage in the workforce, and by starting now, young Australians can rest a little easier with that skill under their belt.

Educational reforms are calling for an overhaul of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) to give the next generation the best chance at moving forward into long-term employment. Skills in STEM fields can lead to jobs that can’t be taken over by automation, with tasks that require serious critical and analytical thinking unlikely to be pushed out by digitised systems.

Whilst young Australians should continue to follow their passions, it’s now more important than ever for them to study something that will lead to a more permanent form of employment. When looking to the future and to further education, people need to be considering careers that won’t be effected by automation, and to utilise their creativity and innovation for the good of their future work opportunities.

Now, it is about preparing for the future by trying to keep yourself ahead of the technological curve. There are plenty of free resources online, like Code Academy, to help improve digital literacy, and anyone can start updating their knowledge to suit the digital trend.

The task for young Australians and those looking to re-enter the workforce after being pushed out because of automation is to learn how to adapt, and how to do it well.

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