How automation is changing what our work week looks like

How automation is changing what our work week looks like

There are some pretty significant changes happening to the way we work and what skills we use. With technology, globalisation, and automation, we are living in a world that transforms rapidly and our training and education can’t always keep up. The New Work Smarts report released last week by FYA reveals that across all industries, we can expect some big shifts in what weekly skills and activities we use at work.

Analysing over 20 billion hours of work completed by 12 million Australian workers, the report has found that by 2030, what we do at work is going to change. Our work week is going to be more focused on problem solving, critical thinking, and verbal communication skills, with less time spent on administrative and routine manual tasks like coordination and management.

This means that young people commencing their degrees, training, or jobs now, need to be prepared for a future job market that is shaped by automation and technology, and a shift in skills demand from employers.    

Not just in some industries, but across all jobs.

Already, most industries have experienced the influence of automation and technology in work systems and processes. Whether it’s teachers using software, like Compass or Turnitin, to improve the efficiency of administrative and routine work, or data analysts’ using programs to churn through loads of information quicker so that humans can get on with understanding what that information means.

In addition, most  Australians have a presence in the cloud, living a virtual life where we no longer need to go into a bank because we can do it online. We can now order our groceries and get them delivered to our front door, and the obvious, we can send emails and instant messages gaining 24 hour global communication access.

So what do all these things actually mean for us?  For one thing, they save us time.

With those extra minutes or hours gained by the efficiency and automation of basic services and functions, our work week starts to look dramatically different to the past.

For example, future pharmacists will find that new technology will cut the time spent on store administration (like stocktaking and ordering) from 22 hours a week in 2006 to 6 hours in 2030, allowing assistants to spend substantially more time on digital tasks, such as updating the business website, developing an online shopping app or analysing monthly sales data.

The future doctor will spend 9 hours less per week using foundational skills (such as diagnosis, prognosis, processing, analysing and strategising), and 18 hours more per week using enterprise skills (interacting, interpreting, communicating, consulting and caring).

As a result, it isn’t going to be enough to have strong technical or foundational skills alone.  We also need a portfolio of transferable skills to help us be better communicators, problem solvers and critical thinkers. 

Work is changing forever. Teachers, educators, parents, policy makers, government and Australian society need to start sharing and encouraging the new ways of learning, thinking, and doing, so that our young Australian workers will be able to evolve and adapt to the future of work.  

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