12 DECEMBER, 2016


The stark realisation by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) that five million jobs face a high probability of being replaced in the next decade prompts the question: what skills will you need to be employable in 2025?

According to CEDA’s report, there are three global forces that are revolutionising the way we work – automation, globalisation and collaboration. During the next 10–15 years, 40% of Australian jobs are at high risk of automation, while 11 per cent of our service jobs could be provided remotely from abroad. And already 30 per cent of Australian workers are participating in flexible working arrangements involving multiple jobs or employers.

The accelerating pace of technological, demographic and socio-economic disruption is transforming industries and business models, changing the skills that employers need and shortening the shelf-life of employees’ existing skill sets in the process. Job profiles are changing rapidly and in many industries and countries, the most in-demand occupations today didn’t exist 10 or even five years ago.

Much of the discussion at the Work 2.0 conference held last month in Sydney focused on the future of work and the capabilities that will be increasingly important in the face of automation and a changing digital landscape.

On this topic, three main questions arose:

  • What are the capabilities required to make sure you (still) have a great job in 2025?
  • How will employers measure these capabilities in making decisions around recruitment and workforce planning?
  • What will be expected of leaders to support capability development for jobs of the future?

The workforces of the future will be impacted by an array of emerging technologies, from cloud services, the internet of things and big data to artificial intelligence and immersive technology.

Digital disruption is therefore a hot topic for today’s workers, with 82 per cent of Australian business leaders surveyed this year expecting their organisations to be a digital business in the next three years. Yet only 34 per cent of business leaders feel they are well-prepared when it comes to making changes in leadership and management practices to adapt to digital.

So, what leadership skills are required for the digital age? To achieve success, organisations rely on leaders at all levels to have the relevant skills, knowledge, drive and applied experience necessary to meet current and future challenges.

Leaders need to be able to create a vision and inspire people to both follow it and commit to action. Leaders must also work with people to develop their workforce capabilities and transfer knowledge and skills more rapidly. Empowering others and being flexible to adapt and change will be key traits in the new digital era.

A new mode of organisation – a network of teams – is now sweeping businesses and organisations around the world, with these teams having a high degree of empowerment, communication and rapid information flow.

Teamwork and clear communication will still be essential for collaborating and engaging with different people across different teams at different times and places to achieve business outcomes.

But in the future of work, the most essential factor for a person and their future potential is the ability to change how they think, to adapt and expand and apply their thinking to new situations and unexpected events to make critical judgments to find the best solutions.