ACS and CSIRO forecasts megatrends for Australian workforce in next 20 years

“What is becoming abundantly clear is the need for better education in the technology space”

The explosion in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed, coupled with advances in automated systems and artificial intelligences means that robotics can perform tasks quickly and more efficiently than humans, says the Australian Computer Society (ACS) and Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

The organisations released a report forecasting a future where Australians will work side by side with machines in jobs that today exist only on the margins or within our imagination.

ACS chief executive, Andrew Johnson, said the need for better education in the technology space is becoming abundantly clear and the report shows that digital skills will be a requirement in almost every job in the next 20 years.

“We can, and must, be at the cutting edge of innovation, especially in the creative and knowledge economies,” he added.

  • The Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT is at the early stages of growth. In 2006 there were 2 billion smart connected devices, in 2015 there were 15 billion devices.

Internet data usage in Australia is also growing exponentially. Roughly 2.5 exabytes of data will be generated on any given day in 2015. This is roughly the same amount of data generated in total since the dawn of time until 2004.

As per report findings, it is estimated that 44 per cent of jobs in Australia face potential risk of computerisation and automation.

  • A large market for coworking spaces is emerging

In 2012, the number of coworking spaces in Australia increased by 156 per cent, disrupting the horizon for office lease.

The P2P (peer-to-peer) market allows anyone to participate. Services such as Airbnb, Uber, Etsy, Madeit and Ppost provide value through convenience, low barriers to entry and increased speed in enabling people to transform their free time into paid work

  • Increase in small businesses and entrepreneurs

In Australia, small businesses account for the largest proportion of employment in Australia at 43 per cent in 2012-2013.

Additionally, the Australia has one of world’s top five entrepreneurial ecosystems according to a ranking by Ernst and Young and is ranked third globally for overall entrepreneurship attitude by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute.

  • Demographics are increasingly divergent

Nearly one in five Australians are expected to be over 65 years old in 2035, compared with one-sixth of the population today.

This finding shows that nearly two thirds of the population could become dependent on those in the labour force by 2046.

Additionally, migrants arriving in Australia could counteract the ageing workforce and contribute to cultural diversity. Every year, more than 80 per cent of arriving migrants are of working age, whilst only 54 per cent of Australian residents are of working age.

  • Upper secondary education is prerequisite for entering the labour market

The report forecasted the number of jobs available for highly-skilled labour is projected to more than double in 2019 compared with 1991.

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge is associated with 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations, innovations and wage premiums.

However, today, 11 per cent fewer Year 12 students study maths than in 1992, and there has been a 35 per cent drop in domestic enrolment in information technology subjects at universities since 2001.

The report revealed that Australians are likely to face increasing competition, as the number of people with tertiary education is growing rapidly overseas. In 2012, every third adult in OECD countries had a tertiary degree.

Findings predict that by 2030, China and India will provide nearly half of the tertiary educated people aged 25-34 and more than 60 per cent of the STEM qualified workforce for G20 countries.

  • Increasing transition to a knowledge economy

The report found the number of patent applications in Australia increased by nearly 50 per cent in the period 1999-2013 with the growth rate exceeding overall economic growth, reflecting the rise of a knowledge economy.

Employment in the ‘creative economy’ has been growing at an above average rate for the whole economy in Australia. The sector is contributing 7-8 per cent of gross domestic product growth annually.

The report also predicts that Generation Z (born 1995-2009) could demand new work environments as the generation tends to be creative and digitally minded.

Nearly 50 per cent of teens are connected for over 10 hours a day, yet according to ACS and CSIRO, members of Generation Z prefer face-to-face communication over technology and are hoping to change the world.

Additionally, the report found that they are particularly entrepreneurial, with as many as 60-70 per cent wanting to start own businesses.

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