Jobs of the future

Jul 27th, 2016

Australia has always had its fair share of teachers, doctors, waiters and clerks. But alongside our traditional occupations there's a raft of new jobs generated by new technologies: middleware integrator. Data visualisation officer. Social media community manager.

Henry Weaver, 24, is the experience manager with Fishburners, a co-working space for tech start-ups in Ultimo, in inner Sydney

In the corporate world of the past, his job - connecting Fishburners members with each other and to external stakeholders - might have placed him in a human resources team. Now his skills and his mentoring role are constantly evolving along with the start-ups and the technology they use.

To him, the future is exciting.

"The opportunities are endless," Mr Weaver said. "It's all about flexibility. You don't need to focus on one role for eight years - you can really chop and change."

When the last Census was held in 2011, Mr Weaver was starting a law degree in London; his current job is one of dozens that did not exist five years ago.

New occupations recorded in the 2016 Census will reflect just how much rapid advances in technology are re-shaping the Australian workforce, with the data collected on August 9 informing the decisions of educators, business and government as they plan for the future.
Sixty-five percent of children who entered primary school in 2011 will end up working in careers that have not yet been invented, one US researcher has predicted.

Forty per cent of today's workforce - more than five million people - will likely be replaced by automation in the next 10 to 20 years, according to the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia, while a NSW government briefing paper warned that more than half of all NSW jobs are at risk of computerisation.

Some analysts say up to 60 per cent of the workforce will be freelance or a contractor in the next five years, Peter Bradd, chairman of StartupAUS and CEO of entrepreneurial training company the Beanstalk Factory, said. The trend towards freelancing work and growth in shared work spaces was "allowing people to follow their passions and also create income on the side".
Mr Bradd expects the 2016 Census to show a large rise in the number of entrepreneurs and small business owners, as well as a "huge number of new jobs that didn't exist five years ago", thanks to an increasingly digital world.

He said people used to train for a single career but in the future work would be more "piecemeal', with more part-time jobs and a focus on project-based work.

"It's independent work, so you're working for yourself or in a small collective, you'll often be working from a shared office space like Fishburners, you'll maybe be working for multiple companies a week rather than just one," Mr Bradd said. "It's very exciting for workers but ... you need to focus on education and staying up to date with skills."

On Thursday, StartupAUS will release its future of work paper, which highlights the growing importance of workers with entrepreneurial, STEM, creative and social skills and the role of innovation hubs.

Mr Bradd said many businesses and entrepreneurs used Census data "to work out the trends - what should they be building products and services for?"

The head of the 2016 Census,  Duncan Young, said the information gathered will help design school, TAFE and university programs to equip Australians with the skills to succeed in the future workforce.

"You can't effectively plan for the future economy without a detailed understanding of the direction it's moving in," he said. "It'll also help with job training for people that are finding employment difficult as the workforce changes."

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