Deloitte released its most recent paper in its ‘Building the lucky country’ series.

“it’s about augmentation, rather than automation or replacement. While jobs are changing in nature because of automation, they will not disappear altogether”.

These papers are developed to prompt debate and conversations across business, industry associations, government and the media.

Looking into future work

The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human’ not only contains a link to an associated presentation, but also lets you to download the report too. It aims to do some ‘myth busting’. And it looks at the skills that will support job currency for the future. Finally, it explores the pathways for government and business to “get work to work”. It’s well worth reading in detail.

The premise is that “there is a lot of anxiety about the future of work”. However, the report argues that: “Technology is not a substitute for people”. Rather:

“it’s about augmentation, rather than automation or replacement. While jobs are changing in nature because of automation, they will not disappear altogether”.

The myths being busted

First, they argue “Robots won’t take your job”.  This is because new technologies generally create as many jobs as they kill, and often job needs are problem based, and we are not running short of problems.

Second, the extent to which people have to change jobs may be overestimated. As they point out: Australians are staying in their jobs longer than ever and, in fact, “45 percent of workers have been with their current employer for more than five years”.  In addition, they report that the proportion of casual and self-employment have both been shrinking.

Finally, there is the myth of remote employment “anywhere but the office”. They suggest that more people are working flexibly. True; however they point out that:

 “physical proximity to other creative people is becoming more important, not less. Working together helps us collaborate and socialise, as well as giving us infrastructure and support. So, the office is not going away any time soon”.

The shift that is needed: from hands to hearts

Work today is more likely to jobs to need you to use your ‘head’ rather than your ‘hands’. It’s about ‘knowledge workers’ and an increasing professionalism of work. Also, it’s the less routine jobs – the interpersonal and creative stuff – that are harder to automate, and that is where employment has been growing. The report argues that:

“By 2030, one quarter of Australia’s workforce will be professionals. Most of these will be in business services, health, education or engineering. Two-thirds of jobs will be soft-skill intensive by 2030.”

Women dominate these fast-growing job areas, and this is because of the significant gender segmentation of work in Australia.

The ways forward: a different skill set?

What are employers asking for? There is a growing demand for people with coding and programming skills. Digital literacy is a biggie! And we will explore this in the next issue of VDC News. But other critical ones are missing:

“the skills at the top of the ladder are human skills; like customer service, sales and resolving conflicts”.

And some of the other critical generic skills may be missing too. These include skills in time management and organisation, customer service and verbal communication.

Everyone is involved

As they say: “Getting ahead of the game means refreshing everybody’s skills – not just those of today’s students”. This means an increased focus on ‘on-the-job learning’. And this, in their view, is because it’s “cheaper, more relevant and more focused than classroom learning”. But it also requires that we have great workplaces, and at its best: a dynamic ecosystem, which can help employees utilise their skills to achieve business goals.

They also propose a system where people are happier, more skilled and more engaged.

So, does this require a rethink of the current VET system, because “skill requirements are changing faster and becoming more job-specific at the same time as workers staying longer in their jobs”.   It’s a move from qualifications to ‘job skills’ because work and occupational requirements are changing faster than ever.