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.

Generation Z defined; The 5 characteristics of today's students

Friday, September 09, 2016

For today’s students, growing up with the emerging technologies at their fingertips has blurred the lines of work and social, of study and entertainment, of private and public. They now live in an open book environment – just a few clicks away from any information. They connect in a border less world across countries and cultures, and they communicate in a post-literate community where texts and tweets are brief, and where visuals and videos get the most cut-through.

At McCrindle, we are regularly engaged by a variety of organisations to assist with understanding who Generation Z is, what context they are being shaped in the traits that define them. Before we can engage this generation, we first need to understand them.

So how can we understand the emerging generations and their learning habits? Well, based on our research, here are five characteristics of today’s students:


Traditionally, learning took place in the classroom and the practice and application through homework. However, in the 21st Century, content can now be accessed through technology anywhere, and often in very visual and engaging forms. Thus we have the flipping of education where the learning takes place outside the classroom, but the essential engagement and practice is still conducted at school, by the all-important facilitator, rather than the teacher.


Not only through technology do today’s students interact, but they are mobile in terms of the jobs they will have and the homes they will live in. It is therefore important to think about how you can equip this generation with not just content but resilience in a changing world.


Today's generation of students are truly global, and are the most likely generation to work in multiple countries. They’re the most globally connected and influenced generation in history and are not limited to the local, but are global as never before.


We've called the emerging generation, Gen Alpha, but we also call them Generation Glass, because it is not just pen and paper, but iPads and screens on which they will learn, which are designed to not just display the written but the visual. While today’s students need literacy they also need digital skills to thrive in this changing world.


In an era of information overload, messages have increasingly become image-based and signs, logos and brands communicate across the language barriers with colour and picture rather than with words and phrases. Communicating symbols and pictures with stories isn’t an entirely new concept. Most ancient forms of communication such as indigenous rock art, reinforces the notion that it is pictures not words that tell the story. Visuals are also the way in which the brain processes information best. It can retain visual symbols and images rather than just written content. Our analysis of learning styles has shown the dominance in the visual and hands on learning styles, above auditory delivery form, which has traditionally dominated the classroom.

To find out more about Generation Z, visit our site generationz.com.au and if we can assist with any presentations on the topic of the emerging generations, please feel free to get in touch.

About Ashley McKenzie - Team Leader of Communications at McCrindle

Ashley McKenzie is a social researcher, trends analyst and Team Leader of Communications at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a trends analyst she understands the need for organisations to communicate with the emerging generations to effectively engage and motivate them. 

From her experience in managing media relations, social media platforms, content creation and event management, Ashley is well positioned to advise how to achieve cut through in these message-saturated times. 

Her expertise is in training and equipping leaders and teams on how to communicate across generational barriers.


A Snapshot of Education Across Australia

Monday, July 18, 2016

We have been looking at different aspects of life in Australia and we are turning our focus on how each state rates when it comes to education. Are we more educated than we used to be? In 1986 49% of students completed year 12 and these days its fast approaching 90%.

Let’s talk about tertiary education across the generations

We are becoming an even cleverer country as measured by university completion so if we look at the Baby Boomers, 1 in 5 have a university degree, for Generation X, that’s 1 in 4, for Generation Y its 1 in 3 but for today’s school students, about 1 in 2 of them will end up with a university degree in their lifetime.

How does university attendance compare across the states?

If we look at 18 – 24 year olds, who are full time students, we have the ACT and Victoria leading the charge there and the other states not too far behind, while the Northern Territory is a fair way behind.

When looking at school performance, which state is performing the best as they hit year 7?

The NAPLAN results allows us to compare across Australia. If you look at the percentage of students in year 7 who are above the national minimum standard, again good results across the board. ACT and Victoria again leading Australia as far as the proportion of students above the standards. The other states are close behind, again with the Northern Territory a bit off the pace.

Having an education usually means a lower risk of unemployment, how did the states rate?

Pretty good, Australia as a whole is going very well, with 5.7% unemployment, that’s well below a lot of comparable nations. It has gone down this year, not up and if you look at the states that are doing better than that with a lower unemployment rate, the Northern Territory and ACT are performing best however some other states particularly South Australia and Tasmania are a bit behind.

Watch Mark McCrindle's full interview on The Daily Edition here

Generation Z at school

Friday, April 29, 2016

How well are our 19th Century Institutions connecting with 21st Century Students?

‘Schools are 19th Century institutions using 20th Century buildings to teach 21st Century students and we wonder why traditional education sometimes struggle to connect. So if they don’t learn the way we teach, then let’s teach the way we learn.’ – Mark McCrindle

The children of Australia are today’s students and tomorrow’s employees. And while each generation has passed through the student lifestage, Generation Z are the only ones to have done so in the 21st Century. They can be defined as being post-linear, post-literate, and post-logical.

They have been born into a time that has seen the printed word morph into an electronic form. Ironically, today an electronic document is perceived to have more currency, and therefore accuracy, than the printed page. Books give way to YouTube videos. The written word is replaced by icons and images. Education is shifting from structured classrooms to collaborative means, from textbooks to tablets and from reports to infographics and video presentations. Words in this global era are progressively replaced with symbols or universal icons. They have been labelled generation glass because it is this medium that communicates content: glass you don’t just look through but look at, and wear and carry and interact with.

Characteristics of today's learners

Post linear

While schools structure learning by subject, Generations Z live life in a hyperlinked world. For digital natives it is not a subject but a lifestyle. Teachers deliver formal lessons, yet students are experiential and participative. We test academic knowledge and memory in examinations yet they, with the always-on Internet, are living in an open-book world, only ever a few clicks away from any piece of information on the planet.

Generation Z and the emerging Generation Alpha are also the most technologically literate and socially empowered generation of children ever. They are highly intuitive and confident users of digital technology, with Facebook having been around more than a decade, and iPhones, iPads, apps and social media having been available to them from their formative years.

There are 4.5 million reasons to engage Generation Z, the students of today and university graduates, employees and leaders of tomorrow. What’s more, the future of education depends on understanding and engaging with these 21st century learners. In order to fulfil the demand for labour and to ensure the future of our employment sector, our education system will need to adapt to and accommodate the learning styles of today’s students.

Post literate

Note we use the term post-literate, not illiterate. They are writing more (emails) and sending more (text) messages, just in ways different to previous generations. The issue is that literate forms of communication alone just won’t connect in today’s visual world. Today’s learners are a multi-modal generation and therefore demand communication styles that engage multiple learning channels. While the chalk and talk teaching approach was the only style on offer in previous generations, this structured approach to classroom communication is far less engaging for today’s technologically savvy, multi-media, post-structured learners. Though many complain about the short attention spans of today’s youth, this is mainly exhibited in the context of old methods of teaching that largely involve passive models of communication.

Post logical

The language of today’s learners is one that communicates content as well as being exciting, social and creative. They value visual and interactive communication with quick and easy access to information. This is in distinct contrast to perception of the education system where learning and fun are seen as mutually exclusive. Learning must not just be an academic exercise- of logic and rationale, but a development experience- of social, emotional and visceral connection as well. The point is that students have changed, so approaches to teaching need to change as well.

Engaging with today's learners

It is excellent to see that schools and classrooms are responding effectively to these changing learning styles through the implementation of learning stations, shifting from ‘teacher’ to facilitator’, managing more group work, providing real world case studies, outdoor education and teaching through activity-based learning. This, to the credit of schools is how they’ve been able to engage with changing learner needs while maintaining educational excellence. That said, there are still more changes to be made. According to our survey on parents’ opinions on education, over 90 per cent would like to see schools work harder at engaging with students and making learning interesting.

Traditionally, children were pre-formatted to learn within a structured environment, having spent their preschool years in a household where formative character was set through routine, compliance and training. However, increasingly, many children enter formal schooling without such a background and when such a student does not complete year 12, it is said that ‘they failed school’ when actually ‘their school experience failed them’.

While in the past parents, extended family, Sunday school and the Scouts or sports teams all had a role in developing the character, values and socialisation skills of the child, today parents are juggling increasingly complex roles and the average young person is less connected with other formative institutions. Schools are increasingly the one social bottleneck through which young people pass and so have a key role of developing the whole person. That is, in addition to its academic aims, the education system is expected to develop people skills, character formation, life skills and resilience.

The four R's


Not only must our communication style be credible, but we must be credible also. This generation doesn’t expect us to know all about their lifestyle, nor do they want us to embrace their culture. They are simply seeking understanding and respect. If we are less than transparent, it will be seen.


Both the content and style in which we deliver it must be relevant to a generation which is visually educated and entertained. There is no point in going to a friend’s movie night with a rented DVD if they only have a streaming service. Similarly, we must communicate in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our students we will be better equipped to reach them.


Education can either be teacher-centric (traditional), curriculum targeted (with a predominate focus on state-wide testing) or learner focused (responsive to their learning styles and needs).

In a generation education has moved from ‘classes’ to individual learning plans. As part of the shift from students confirming to the system to education responding to the changing times, needs and learners.


The old saying in education circles still rings true for today’s students: ‘they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!’ Communicating to this generation requires more than just good content and new technology – it needs engagement and involvement. The more we create an environment conductive to engaging with the head (knowledge), hands (application) and heart (inspiration), the more likely they learning will be embedded, opportunities enlarged and futures shaped.

Listen to Mark McCrindle on 2SER talking about the 21st Century classroom

McCrindle Education Services

For more information on our education services, including research and providing content and presentations for School Professional Development Days, Executive Staff Sessions and Parents Evenings, please refer to our Education Pack below, or get in touch - we'd love to hear from you!

P: 02 8824 3422

E: ashley@mccrindle.com.au

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