Finance Work The job skills you’ll need to survive in the age of robots

The job skills you’ll need to survive in the age of robots

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Beating the robots means going back to basics. Photo: Getty
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The basics of reading, writing and arithmetic will be crucial for today’s workers if they are to beat the rise of robots, according to new research.

The Foundation for Young Australians published a report on Thursday examining more than 20 billion hours of work completed by 12 million workers to deduce how the labour force will change by 2030.

Maggie Hill, FYA’s public affairs general manager, said the entire workforce should take note of the findings, not just young people.

“The report has big implications for young people but it looks at the economy across the board so it has implications for everyone,” she told The New Daily.

“The urgency for young people is that for a child starting their schooling this year, by the time they finish it will almost be 2030, so it’s really important that we embed the findings of the report into the education system.”

According to the report, Australian workers in 2030 will spend far more time each week on tasks requiring written and verbal communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and science and maths.

Workers will also be far more independent. Management “won’t be someone watching over your shoulder to make sure you are working, or giving you tasks to complete, one at a time”, the report concluded.

To compensate for this, employees will need to be more motivated, driven and entrepreneurial.



Ms Hill warned it was close to futile to predict which specific jobs or industries will be worst affected by automation, as the effects will be so widespread.

“A lot of the conversations about the future of work are focussed on which jobs are going to die, what are the new jobs going to be, and it’s quite a narrow lens,” she said.

“What this report really shows is that all jobs are going to be impacted by digital technology and automation, and that we need to think about not just which job we should prepare for, but having a broader approach and thinking about the skills that are going to be relevant.”

The report based its findings on data from the Occupation Information Network, a US database sponsored by the US Department of Labor. This means the findings are not specific to Australia.

Ms Hill advised young Australians to consider applying for entry level jobs based on the skills they will learn, not just pay or enjoyment.

For example, the report concluded that starting out in advertising and marketing could supply all the skills in demand in 2030, such as communication, problem solving, mathematics, interpersonal skills and advanced technology.

In contrast, starting out as a web developer might give you strong technology and problem solving skills, but leave you lacking in communication, interpersonal skills and critical thinking.

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