Industry Insights – The Future of Work

The job currency of the future is soft skills, according to a new Deloitte report, The Path to Prosperity. Australia has enjoyed 27 years of economic growth and prosperity. To continue the success story, we need to invest in human skills development for the brave new world of the future.

The report dispels anxieties about robots taking many future jobs. New technologies will enhance and complement many tasks, but they will still require humans to operate them. Technology is ‘augmentation, not replacement.’

Key findings and messages from the report include:

  • More than 80 per cent of the jobs created between now and in 2030 will be knowledge worker jobs
  • Two-thirds of jobs will be soft-skill intensive by 2030
  • The typical Australian worker today is missing about two of the 18 critical skills that are advertised for a job, compared to 1.2 at the start of the decade
  • By 2030, one quarter of Australia’s workforce will be professionals
  • The skill shortages include leadership, digital literacy, problem solving, and innovative thinking
  • The future of work will require much more on-the-job learning than today
  • Over the past few decades, there has also been a move towards more thought-based, cognitive work: a shift from ‘hands to heads’
  • Employment in Australia is also moving away from routine work into non-routine work
  • Skills, rather than occupations or qualifications, form the job currency of the future
  • Technology is helping to provide ways of learning that are faster and more flexible than ever before

In short, the report debunks the myth of a robot-dominated dystopian future. Quite the opposite, “the future of work will be human.”

Many of the issues and opportunities highlighted in this report were identified by stakeholders during Australian Industry Standards’ nationwide Industry Skills Forums, and were published in Future Skilling our Workforce: A National Conversation. The significance of soft skills in a digital future was also highlighted in AIS 2019 Skills Forecasts.