Why the Future of Work is in Doubt and What We Can Do About It
By Julian Kezelman.
As many as 4.6 million Australian jobs may be at risk within the decade if Australia fails to create a workforce for the future, representing a critical challenge to the future of work, according to a discussion paper, Economy in Transition – Startups, innovation and a workforce for the future, released by StartupAUS, Australia’s national advocacy group for startups
The discussion paper, produced in partnership with Sydney startups Expert360 and CodeCamp, as well as global tech firm LinkedIn, suggests that while few jobs will be protected entirely from the confluence of technological advancements such as automation, startups and tech companies will generate forward-looking jobs based on emerging technologies.
The discussion paper examines some of the themes that will be included in the third annual StartupAUS Crossroads Report to be released in October 2016.
CEO of StartupAUS Alex McCauley said for every job in high-growth tech companies, as many as five tangential jobs are created.
“The paper highlights the extensive economic benefits of building innovation hubs which have powerful multiplier effects. There’s a lot at stake here – if we get it right, we’ll be able to capitalise on it,” he said. “The findings reveal the very real need for Australia to keep up its momentum on innovation and startup policy. This is not a niche area – it’s about what we need to do to help our whole economy manage its inevitable transition.”
“We have two new portfolio Ministers who will be getting across these issues very rapidly and in a very focused way. This paper highlights the need for that urgency and focus.”
LinkedIn data included in the discussion paper suggests that 16 of the 20 most in-demand skills in Australia right now are technology-related, and workers with a mix of entrepreneurial, STEM, creative, and social skills will be in increasingly high demand to support the core of Australia’s burgeoning innovation ecosystem. Providing a valuable insight into the innovative tech-based future of work.
Despite this need, Australia has a profound talent shortage within the STEM field. To combat this, the StartupAUS paper outlines specialised immigration as a crucial part of injecting critical skills into Australia’s current workforce. Thriving innovation hubs in the nation’s major cities will help attract this talent from around the world.
Mr McCauley said: “As our tech startup ecosystem develops, Australia must be open to importing talent from overseas, and at the same time accept that skilled Australians will move offshore. This is a natural part of the modern employment landscape for high skill workers.”
The discussion paper also shows new business models have also created opportunities for independent workers. Studies have shown a substantial increase in contingent work both globally and in Australia - another common theme being that the future of work lies in the so called 'gig economy'.
The paper’s author, Colin Pohl, said: “In the US, approximately 34 per cent of the workforce is already made up of independent workers and we expect this to increase significantly and for a similar trend to be reflected here in Australia. Many corporate jobs require specialised skills that are not required on a permanent basis, and infrastructure support for freelancers will facilitate an increasing number of workers operating across a portfolio of briefs based on their specialised talent.”
Bridget Loudon, CEO of Expert360, said: “The paper highlights both the growing demand for independent work and a need for increased specialisation and expertise within the freelance talent pool. Creating a future-ready workforce means encouraging a freelance economy across all levels of business. Platforms that enable Talent-as-a-Service (TaaS) will be key to this transition and encourage greater agility and productivity.”
Nick O’Donnell, APAC Head of Public Policy for LinkedIn, said: “A crucial factor that will influence the strength and stability of the global economy will be governments’ willingness to set policy levers that encourage entrepreneurism, risk taking and innovation; in doing so allowing a vibrant start-up community to flourish. LinkedIn was delighted to work with StartupAUS to share our in-depth Economic Graph analysis to uncover unique insights into the profile of Australia’s startup environment.”
Benjamin Levi, Co-founder of Code Camp, said: “Code Camp was founded two years ago as a solution to provide every Australian student with the opportunity to learn to code, build passion around STEM, and create their own iPhone app. Over the past two years we have grown from a team of two, to training an incredible team of over 200 engaging teachers whose priority is to inspire and challenge students in a fun environment. We’ve taught over 4,300 students in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Wollongong, Bowral, Newcastle and Adelaide. These skills we teach can be adapted to any industry.”
Robert Wickham, VP Innovation and Digital Transformation, Salesforce, said: “Addressing the skills shortage in Australia is a critical challenge that requires sustained bi-partisan support. We need to ensure that we focus on how to attract the world best talent immediately, but also how to retrain and educate future talent in the mid to longer team. Talent is the fertilizer that will enrich the local ecosystem to drive economic growth.”
StartupAUS believes by fostering a culture of entrepreneurship, nurturing a workforce with a forward-looking skill set, and establishing the infrastructure to support innovation we can be well-positioned to ensure the future of work in Australia is a bright one.
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