JPGbLast week, I escaped from the rat-race, into a magical mountain retreat. Trading corporate jungles for rainforest and simplicity reminded me that life doesn’t need to be so complex.

Nothing comes close to the trajectory of change taking place right now. You see it everywhere. It’s what you do with change that counts, and our own inner resilience and values that sets its course of peril or opportunities.

This is also true when comes to employment. The pessimist thinks technology will steal more jobs than it creates. The optimist thinks technology will create more jobs. The truth is they are both right. More people without jobs will co-exist with an even larger number of jobs without people.

Some jobs today won’t exist tomorrow. That’s how it works. Thousands of workers with specialised skills were caught up in the brutality of mining and car manufacturing crashes.  Almost any “process” today can be computerised, whether it’s in a robot or embedded out of sight. This has put back office and low-skilled jobs in the firing line.

The growth in underemployment has finally gained traction amongst politicians. There are too many people working multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet, with serious implications for our workforce.

A report by Foundation for Young Australians, estimates over half of young people are studying for dying professions, as robots steal entry-level jobs. There’s evidence pouring in of vulnerable youngsters racking up education debt for jobs that won’t exist by the time they reach 30.  It is critical to research careers at the end of the pipeline.

While it’s true that change of this magnitude will impact job prospects for young and old alike for decades to come, the sky’s not falling in – far from it. There will be new jobs created at unimagined rates. The expansion in the services sector has the potential to create more jobs than mining ever could.

A host of new, cheaper and faster technologies emerge daily.  IT specialists who can connect big data with people and processes, and market products on-line, have the world at their fingertips. These are the minds behind Google, Youtube and Facebook.

Your office can be wherever you are – home, cafes, airports, the beach…  All you need is a wireless connection to share data across a secure network – that’s it.  Specialists who can create an IT platform to integrate a dispersed workforce, and support this trend, will thrive.

Our tech-savvy world goes much deeper than the political bias thrown at $100K University degrees. There’s a need to take off the blinkers, and support a world outside of degrees. Someone has to maintain this high-flying technology, creating a niche for people with the technical skills, qualifications and aptitude to make it work.

Department of Employment estimates 838,100 new jobs will be created by 2018, with 80% more people in healthcare than manufacturing.

There’s a tsunami of retirees all headed for the exit door, creating sustained growth across Aged Care, and its supply chain.  Retirees are keen to age with vitality, and will seek out hobbies and ways to stay that way. This creates huge scope for roles across the spectrum of healthcare.  Similarly, the challenge will be finding enough finance professionals to cope with this emerging market.

The complexity of our lives reflects the complexity of business, governed by a raft of regulations. Over 70% of firms in our Executive Outlook group talked about the cost to resource these ever-shifting platforms. This trend is here to stay, creating scope for professionals across legal, finance, engineering and compliance sectors.

Last week’s banter has been around the fall in apprenticeship numbers, with calls to be “put at the top of election platforms”.  Personally, I believe Australia has under-invested in trades for over 2 decades. Trades have been academically devalued across all walks of society. For a long time, apprenticeships were not considered cool. High school retention to Year 12 may have doubled since the 80s, but some say it’s easier to source a heart surgeon than get a plumber. We will always need skilled plumbers, electricians, carpenters through to hairdressers. They are quite immune to digital disruption, and apprenticeships should be given the respect they deserve by all levels of Government.

These are just a few of the roles likely to thrive in our new service-driven economy. Today’s job-seekers need to know where jobs are going, create a niche and acquire the skills and attitude to match the market. It’s about not taking the safe route – what was great before, is stale now.

This goes for those in work too. Our global economy is being transformed with jobs outsourced to developing nations and artificial intelligence. Employer expectations have ramped up to match these trends and expectations. Today’s world is about finding opportunities and responding fast, with a workforce that can flex and bend as you need to. The call is for experienced people with transferable skills, who are sales focussed, tech-savvy and fully engaged in the business, matched with a thirst for learning and ability to communicate across diverse walks of life.

Our feedback from Executive Outlook reflected this trend, across all walks of commerce:

  • Any increase in our workforce is tied to new business or we can’t justify it.
  • We need a broader skill-set, to work across the business.

Presented exclusively by the Top Office Group, Executive Outlook is our annual study, based on in-depth interviews with over 100 firms.  These are some of the areas we are exploring this year.  If you would like to come on board, please give me a call on 3812 2920.

Jan Gadsden