The forces of disruption are not just being driven by start-ups and felt by business leaders – they’re driving change in the workforce and labour market.
– Two-thirds of those with less than five years’ experience (early-career Australians) expect that their job will not exist, or will fundamentally change, in the next 15 years. If they are correct, this means that there is likely to be a period of transition. Many will have to reskill, retrain or change jobs. Historically, the jobs that technology has destroyed have been more than offset by the new jobs that it has created. However, there may still be employees who lose out.
Our career moves are not always straight up a ladder. Of those who will pursue a new job in the next ten years, three in five are looking to change to a different industry, a different role, or both.
Education – be that through technical institutions, training or university – remains an important foundation for success in all professions. It’s particularly important in the knowledge economy. Around 25% of the working-age population now possesses a Bachelor degree or higher qualification, compared to around 5% in the early 1980s. However, it can lose relevance quickly
– 52% of employees with less than five years’ experience already see their qualifications as not being “very much” relevant to their work. Even though the skills learned in higher education may not be highly relevant, they are increasingly transferable to different contexts. Approximately 40% of university educated employees have a degree outside of the primary and secondary study areas in their industry.
For many, the qualifications gained before starting a career are only the beginning of a longer education journey. Half of early-career employees think that they are likely to pursue further formal education in the future. It’s not just university study which is attractive; one quarter of employees say they are likely to pursue further informal education, such as online courses. But careers are broadly following similar timelines: average job tenure in Australia is seven years, and this has remained fairly steady over recent decades.
It is clear that our careers and perceptions are evolving rapidly, as the norm shifts in a more flexible, knowledge-based economy. The combination of greater global economic integration and technological advancements have led to the rise of the “virtual global worker”, which means that we are increasingly competing on a global scale.
What is most certain is that success – for both employers and employees – will depend on an ability to harness and embrace the power of diversity.
Of those early in their careers, 28% ranked working with others from a diverse range of backgrounds in their top three career goals, and studies suggest that businesses which increase workforce diversity could see significant gains in sales revenue.
As a nation, we need to ask ourselves some key questions. How do we prepare? How do individuals equip themselves for career success? How do we provide education which is agile enough to keep pace with changing needs? How do businesses attract, incentivise and retain talent? How do policy makers facilitate exibility and the knowledge economy?