Australian science agency CSIRO says workplaces will be increasingly digitally focused and automated. Who wants to be an ‘online chaperone’?
This article titled “Is this the future of work? Scientists predict which jobs will still be open to humans in 2035” was written by Paul Karp, for theguardian.com on Friday 26th February 2016 05.41 UTC
Workers looking for jobs in 2035 might consider retraining as remote-controlled vehicle operators or online chaperones.
Those are two of the jobs of the future suggested in a report by the CSIRO that charts 20-year trends in increasingly digitally focused and automated Australian workplaces.
The employment minister, Michaelia Cash, released the report on Friday at the Australian Computer Society’s conference.
Cash said the report showed “some jobs will inevitably become automated over the coming years but technological change will improve others and also create new jobs and opportunities”.
“The future won’t be about people competing with machines, it will be about people using machines and doing work that is more interesting and fulfilling,” she said.
The report identifies six mega-trends in the workforce, the most important of which is an “explosion in device connectivity, data volumes and computing speed, combined with rapid advances in automated systems and artificial intelligence means that robotic devices can perform many tasks more quickly, safely and efficiently than humans”.
Increased automation will raise the complexity of workers’ tasks. “Many low-skilled jobs are being offshored or automated. The consequence is the likelihood of a raised skills and education bar for entry into many professions and occupations,” the report said.
The report found science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) knowledge is used in 75% of the fastest-growing occupations and lamented that “Australian youth demonstrate falling interest and performance in Stem”.
Another trend is an anticipated rise in self-employment and freelancing caused by peer-to-peer platforms Upwork, Kaggle, Innoventive and Freelancer.com, which the report claims “provide value through convenience, low barriers to entry and increased speed enabling people to transform their free time into paid work”.
The report said while freelancing “has not yet taken hold in Australia, it is a large (and growing) employment model in other countries”, such as in America where one in three workers is an independent contractor.
If the ideal job does not exist, the worker may need create it, the report suggested. “Entrepreneurial skills are likely to be increasingly important for small business founders and employees within large organisations,” it said.
The report predicted service industries, particularly education and healthcare, would continue to drive job creation, meaning “social interaction skills and emotional intelligence will become increasingly important”.
The report said Australia’s workforce will be diverse, with one in five Australians over the age of 65 in 2035, high female participation and a large proportion of migrants being of working age.
The report said the employment trends will result in new job types, and speculated these might include “bigger big data analysts”, complex decision support analysts, remote-controlled vehicle operators, customer experience experts, personal preventative health helpers and online chaperones.
“The rise of un-crewed vehicles is giving rise to a new workforce of pilots, drivers and ship captains who do their jobs not from the sky, sea or mine site, but from an office in a remote location,” the report said.
In a speech to a workforce productivity conference on 8 December, Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Dave Oliver warned “extreme changes presented by current technological advances are resulting in a deeper, wider and more permanent hollowing out of the jobs market”.
He said a recent CEDA report showed 5 million jobs (40% of the Australian workforce) face a high probability of being replaced by computers over the next 10 to 15 years.
“Despite the great many benefits of new technologies, we desperately want to avoid the slide to a labour market platform that forces workers to bid against each other for parcels of work in some kind of brutal, reverse eBay-style auction,” Oliver said.
“The challenge for all of us – unions, employers, regulators and governments – is to harness the technological opportunities and make them work for, rather than against, worker’s best interests,” he said.
Cash said “more than ever, education and training are important for succeeding in the labour market. By 2019, the number of jobs available for highly-skilled labour is projected to be more than double the number available in 1991.
“How Australia’s workforce fares in the long term will depend on our ability to help workers make transitions to new and better jobs. Our biggest challenge will be to ensure no one is left behind,” she said.
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