The report calls for better education from an early age to help equip young people looking for work.
Whether it’s accounting or law, the hospitality industry or secretarial work; the digital age poses a threat to the number of jobs to be found in the future.
The Foundation of Young Australians has quantified just what this might mean for Australians, finding that around 70 per cent of Australians working in entry level positions will see their roles change, or completely disappear, over the next 10 to 15 years.
Sixty per cent of youth are studying or training for an occupation soon to be predominantly automated.
FYA chief executive Jan Owen says there are three factors driving the change in the job market.
“Automation is a huge driver of the new workforce, so 44 per cent of jobs are going to be automated. Obviously, globalisation is a major force for change as we import work. And then finally collaboration, the whole collaborative economy is making work much more flexible and it means young people are going to be in a very different work environment.”
Ms Owen says Australian students are lagging behind other nations when it comes to learning the digital skills they will need in the future.
She believes early education should better align with the expectations of an evolving workforce.
“It’s just something we need to have a sense of urgency about and also a sense of ambition for our young people so we’re giving them the right pathways and giving them the right information to make fantastic choices. Obviously this really impacts the economy and the country. If we get it right, Australia will be in a better position.”
Professor of Arts and Creativity at the University of Sydney, Michael Anderson, says automation poses a big threat to the future job market and he wants to see a more diverse education for young people.
“It’s the train rumbling down the track at our economy and our education system. And what we need to do to slow that train down is focus on the things that can’t be automated and the things that will actually make a contribution to the future of our society to, not only for employment but how we deal with the big problems.”
He says the Australian youth would benefit from making creativity, collaboration and critical thinking more of a standard practice at school.
“So we need to refocus and reframe our schooling and our learning around those interpersonal skills and those creative skills so that kids that are in school today will actually be able to make a contribution tomorrow.”
Karen Jones works with unemployed youth for Mission Providence in Victoria.
She says young people coming out of school need to better understand how the workforce is set to change.
“You know I think there’s a lot of work that needs to be done, to not only change the way we look at emerging jobs for the future, but how we present those to the children at school and how we educate them for the future.”
The FYA’s report found more than 90 per cent of Australia’s jobs will require digital skills in the next 2 to 5 years.
However, that may be balanced by the report’s finding that an ageing population may create employment opportunities in aged-care and the health sector.