Future Careers for the Emerging Generations

Thursday, January 05, 2017

In Australian there are more than 3.7 million school students around 1.5 million university students with another 1.2 million tertiary students in the vocational education sector. This means that more than 1 in 4 Australians are students and so an understanding of the future of work is an important area. 

Based on the current trends, almost half of the Year 12 students about to complete their exams will end up with a university degree. While they will start their earning years later, they will live longer and work later in life than any previous generation – on average, into their late 60’s. They will stay on average 1.8 years per job early in their career and average about 3 years per job over their working life which means they will have 17 different jobs in their lifetime, across an estimated 5 careers.

Some of the jobs they will hold don’t currently exist, just as mainstream jobs today such as app developer, social media manager and cyber security professional didn’t exist when they began their schooling. Already, working as a virtual reality engineer, cognitive computer expert, data visualisation designer or medical nanotechnologist is nothing unusual. This is very relevant in an area where almost 2 in 3 workers (63%) are white collar, employed in professional, managerial and administrative roles compared to less than half the workforce nationally (49%).

The last few years of disruption has shown us that any role that can be replaced by technology will be. While technology is great for automating systems and replacing repetitive functions, it is not strong at adapting to complex change and engaging with people. Therefore, to future proof careers and skills, today’s young people will need to develop their social interactions, their creative problem solving and their resilience to adapt to a constantly changing workplace. In other words, by being collaborative, responsive and innovative, today’s local students will be enabled to thrive in global careers, now and over the decades ahead.


1. Let’s look at education in Australia, how many students are there?

A total of 6.4 million students in Australia. 3.7 million school students, 1.5 million uni students and 1.2 million tertiary students in the vocational education sector.

2. So how will employment and careers look in the future for these current students?

Firstly, they will live longer than previous generations, work a lot later as well – into their late 60’s, they will move jobs more frequently, staying about 3 years per job, which means they will have 17 separate jobs in their life time and work in an estimated 5 careers. They will be a generation of lifelong learners having to plug back into education to upskill and retrain throughout their lives. In this era of online services like Uber, Airtasker and delivery services, we have seen the rise of the “gig-economy” and more of this generation will end up being freelancers, contractors or contingent workers than ever before. Recent research shows that a third of the national workforce currently participates in contingent work, and more than 3 in 4 employers believe that it will be the norm for people to pick up extra work through job related websites or apps.

3. So what are some of the jobs of the future and what is creating them?

Technology is the first driver. While it is replacing many jobs as seen in manufacturing sector it is also creating many new jobs such as virtual reality engineers, cyber security, nanotechnology digital services, block chain engineers.

4. Are there other factors that are creating emerging jobs?

Yes, the demographic change is creating new opportunities. Australia is growing and the ageing population means that we will need more people in health care aged care and retirement services than ever before. Our increasingly culturally diverse population is creating greater opportunities for people working human services, social work and translation services. And social trends and generational changes are creating new opportunities too. It’s a visual area, so data visualisation or indeed virtual reality applications have created new and emerging roles. Our lives are more complex and in an era of mobility, app development, user experience manager and online shopping experts have emerged to respond to our new customer needs.

5. So how do we future proof our careers in times of great change?

Firstly, be responsive. Everything that can be automated will be and if a job can be done more efficiently through technology, outsourcing or offshoring then it will be. Therefore we need to look at our industry and career and respond to the trends both local and global and upskill and retrain to remain relevant.

Secondly, be innovative. Computers are great at doing repetitive tasks but they are not designed to being creative or add innovation. If we can develop the ability to solve problems, improve systems, be proactive and add value our roles will be indispensable.

Finally, be collaborative. Future careers involves not just an understanding of technology but an understanding of people. Those who can effectively communicate, deal well with others, create a collaborative environment, lead people and motivate teams will always be in demand, and these are areas that computers cannot replace.

Future proofing careers: How to stay relevant for tomorrow’s workforce

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

44% of Australian jobs (5.1 million current jobs) are at risk from digital disruption in the next 20 years, and 75% of Australia’s fastest growing occupations require STEM Skills - Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Yet digitalisation is not the only thing affecting the change in tomorrow’s job market.

Population trends both nationally and regionally are redefining Australia. Demographic and social trends, such as emerging cultural diversity, the implications of an ageing population, household transformations, and increased mobility are creating significant changes. Workforce trends such as teleworking, tenure shifts, multi-career expectations, and emerging attraction, retention, and engagement factors are informing the demands on 21st century workers.

As these technological, generational, educational, and demographic shifts redefine job demands, it’s more important than ever before for individuals to be innovative, collaborative, proactive, and responsive to ensure they remain future-proofed for tomorrow’s workforce.

What does it mean to stay innovative?

In the next 10 years, there will be significant shifts to the labour market. There is a basic reality around job functions in developed economies with a relatively high cost of labour: everything that can be automated, will be automated, and every role that can be offshored to lower cost-base countries will be offshored. However, technology and business innovation will create new and diverse roles in areas that technology can’t compete. Roles that require creative input, people-focus, leadership skills or high-level communication talent can be futureproofed as they are not be effectively replaceable by technology.

Being Collaborative

It’s important not just to focus on academic outcomes but the people skills; not just the learning, but on the ability to work well with others. 1997 was the first year in which we began spending more time looking at screens than in in face to face interaction, and today, individuals spend over 10 hours on screens every day. In tomorrow’s job market, if someone has a good ability to communicate, motivate, and engage – they’ll go far.

Staying Proactive

In today’s flat-structured work environments, people need to be self-leaders and managers and stay self-directed. In previous decades it was the norm to have a very structured workplace with a chain of command where employers were looking for compliance rather than proactive innovation. Today there is the need for a self-starter mentality in every organisation – for employees at all levels to take charge and show proactive initiative.

Being Responsive

It’s important to keep eyes on the external environment. Individuals who can not only remain experts at their craft but extend their knowledge to various domain areas will stay future-proofed. A career that is future-proofed may in fact by its very nature change and adjust nearly every year. Be responsive and observe what’s happening around you.

By being innovative, collaborative, proactive, and responsive to the changes taking place, individuals can navigate the challenge of being future-proofed for tomorrow’s workforce.


Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth and the ageing workforce to social trends such as changing household structures and emerging lifestyle expectations, from generational change to the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.

With academic qualifications in community engagement and postgraduate studies in international development and global health, Eliane brings robust, research-based content to her engaging presentations and consulting. As a social researcher, she has been interviewed on these topics on prominent television programs such as National Nine News and Today, as well as on radio and in online media.


To have Eliane present at your next event, please feel free to get in touch via email to ashley@mccrindle.com.au or call through to 02 8824 3422

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