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Published 10 October 2012 04:54, Updated 11 October 2012 05:00
Project teams:US futurist Thomas Frey says Australia will become a much more project-based society. Workers will come together in the same way that movie production teams are formed. “Whenever there is a production, the lighting guys, the camera guys, the make-up people all come together. And as soon as it is over, it all disbands and then they re-form over another project,” he says.
Faster education:Frey says he wonders how long it will be before someone can get a PhD without being literate. “The first time I listened to an audiobook, I thought I was cheating. I thought it was way to easy to learn from it. But how you get the information into your head really shouldn’t matter.”
Colonies:Skilled freelancers will gather together in communities and will create hubs to work from as an alternative to working from home. “They are looking for other places to go to do their work,” says Frey. “Co-working facilities are cropping up all over the world.”
A spill of skills:Old revered skills, such as the ability to recall large amounts of detail (lawyers, doctors, accountants) will lose their importance as a result of the easy access to information. The ability to handle uncertainty will be a key requirement of leadership. “Social networking is a skill that didn’t exist 10 years ago but it is in high demand at the moment,” Frey says.
Change:Young people in the Millennial generation (born after 1984) actually find security in the ability to job hop. “They actually work very well with uncertainties. They don’t want to end up like their parents, having a job for a long time that goes away and leaves them devastated,” Frey says.
Winners and losers:CEO of the Australian Workforce and Productivity AgencyRobin Shreeve says there will be more professional workers and a lot more routine workers but the middle levels will disappear. “In the professions, they will need constantly higher qualifications,” he says. “Entry level jobs have disappeared from the public service. Junior clerks are as rare as directors-general now.”
The futurists say people who will lose out are those who have fewer skills: painting houses, digging ditches. “I’m not sure what happens to all those people. There’s a great problem to solve,” says Frey.
US human capital expert Kevin Wheeler says older people may be at a disadvantage. “People are going to be in for a ride that will be difficult,” he says. “They will have to get new skills, retrain. This will be a challenge for a country with an ageing workforce.”
Winners will be those who work in the area of personal services. “These are the things you need a human being to do, such as psychology and psychiatry,” he says. “There will be a growth in all sorts of counselling. The changes in the workplace creates lots of stress.”
Fall in living standards:Plenty of jobs that are now considered valuable will disappear, says Wheeler, such as some legal or medical work. “There’s a big gap between how fast we are making jobs obsolete and how fast we are creating new ones,” he says. People considered middle class now may have a reduced standard of living as jobs change, he says.
Thomas Frey will be talking at the Creative Innovation Asia Pacific event on November 28-30 in Melbourne.