Getting ready for the future of work

Digital acceleration has led to flexible work with many employees leaving the cities for better lifestyles in regional areas. As remote working and distributed workplaces become a permanent focus of HR management, Australian executives said the top three elements that will have a strong impact on businesses by 2023 are hyperconnectivity (56%), AI (46%) and process automation (46%). What does this mean for reskilling? And how can we ensure that the robots don't take our remote jobs?



COVID-19 and Digital Acceleration


Only 38% of Australian business reported that the COVID-19 response had a negative impact on their business performance, compared to their counterparts in the Australia Pacific region (APAC reported 44%). Many Australian businesses were quick to adopt new virtual and digital working protocols, with 49% of Australian survey respondents saying that the pandemic drove their digital acceleration, compared to 52% of companies globally and 48% across the APAC region.


Research from Cognizant has found that Australian businesses were quick to respond to the pandemic and took measures to manage a sudden influx of demand for digital services and handle employees remotely. With the transition to a more digital environment, Australian companies aim to generate 14% of their revenue from digital channels by 2023, an increase of 9% in 2021. Companies that view the pandemic as a catalyst for becoming digital and an opportunity to get closer to their customers and employees are forecast to grow stronger in the recovery.



The human-machine collaboration


Companies that put machine learning and artificial intelligence to use and create innovative products and services that help customers save time, money and effort are forecast to succeed. In this human–machine environment, human-centric skills are predicted to gain prominence.


The top five skills Australian organisations say will become more important in 2023 are:

  • decision-making (64%),

  • communication (55%),

  • strategic thinking (54%),

  • learning (53%) and

  • leadership (52%).


The top five skills were prioritised differently in the APAC, with decision-making (59%), strategic thinking (54%), learning (53%), communication (52%) and leadership (52%) being the order of priorities. The research suggests that human workers will focus more on what to do with insights generated by AI, which requires the improvement of decision-making skills.


As remote working becomes the new normal and people transition to a hybrid working environment, Australian executives said the top three elements that will have a strong impact on businesses by 2023 are hyperconnectivity (56%), AI (46%) and process automation (46%).


While Cognizant’s data shows notable growth in automation, AI and machine learning, it won’t necessarily make humans redundant. Rather, it will lead to a greater requirement for certain human qualities that machines cannot replace.

As AI becomes more prominent among Australian businesses, data and the automation of tasks will become more accessible, with companies expecting jobs to become more specialised (55%) and work to become more analytical (46%) and more strategic (45%). Australian businesses also want AI to benefit their organisations by helping them achieve better decision-making (60%), operational efficiency (58%) and customer experience (54%).


With more customers moving online, businesses will be forced to access and analyse multiple disparate data sources to create personalised offerings and drive customer acquisition and retention. Machines will play an increasingly important role here, sifting through large datasets to filter and identity errors or actionable items (26% globally); collecting, curating and managing data (24% globally); and mining and analysing data to make predictions and recommendations (23% globally). Australia’s projections are at 26%, 24% and 24% respectively, up from 17%, 15% and 15% today.


In the words of Joanna Penn:


"Embrace the future and don't try to outrun the machine. Run with it. Because you will be paid in future by how well you collaborate with the machine."



What is the reskilling outlook?


According to the World Economic Forum's Future of Jobs Report 2020, 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025 to keep pace with technology adoption. New jobs are already emerging, requiring new skills from workers.


COVID19 has accelerated the arrival of "the future of work" and is pushing companies globally:

  • to scale with remote workers (83%)

  • to accelerate digitalisation (84%)

  • to accelerate automation (50%)


With automation continuing to increase, it is expected that by 2025, humans and machines will perform equal hours of work. Any manual or repetitive job, whether blue-collar or white-collar, is set to be displaced as companies adopt new technologies and strategically build on their human capital.


The Reskilling Revolution between now and 2030 has begun, with around 40% of the average workers' skills needing to be updated urgently, which could take from 6 months to 2 years according to WEF reports. However, their technical skills do not need to be perfect. Developing skills in self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility are just as critical in the increasingly remote work landscape.




What is the Australian job market outlook?


In the Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs Report (Nov 2019) a clear shortfall in science, technology and mathematics skills was identified that must be filled if

the Australian economy is to realise the promises of technology-driven growth.


The best available candidates would have to overcome a significant skills shortfall to meet the requirements of IT-related jobs. On average, Australian workers are 57% short of the programming skills requirements, projected for 2028. In sophisticated cognitive skills, such as maths and science, the best available candidates are up to 30% short of the skill levels new positions require. Jobs created by technological change are expected to occur continuously at the general rate of job displacement, as companies integrate technology solutions at different rates.



How can I be "in-demand" by 2025?


It would seem that employers are facing this massive challenge on their own, with high competition for limited government funding for training programmes.


By the same token, motivated individuals are taking action now to make themselves "future ready" and more employable by pushing boundaries and developing new skill sets.


What’s changed in my world of work? Are my skills that were once in demand in a pre-COVID-19 world, still in demand in a post-COVID-19 world? How can I demonstrate these vital skills on my resume?

  • Critical thinking

  • Creativity and innovation

  • Growth mindset

  • Digital communication

  • Flexibility and adaptability

  • Digital skills


It is difficult to foster these skills alone. If you have the exposure to a team of critical thinkers, you are ahead of your competition. Through collaboration and networking with others, by learning and sharing our digital technical knowledge and business case studies, we can discover our full potential with these skills which are so vital in the new world of work and doing business.


That is exactly what the Digital Playhouse is here for!

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