The future of work is a hot topic at the moment as digital technologies begin to change how and where we work. Automation and artificial intelligence are and will continue to replace certain tasks and jobs that are currently being performed by human beings. As we approach this fourth industrial revolution, a recent study from Deloitte Access Economics has revealed that nearly two out of five (38%) employed Australians – equivalent to 4.8 million people – feel very little job security or worry about it to some extent.

What is causing this anxiety?

The gig economy and casualisation of the workforce certainly contributes to this, with 36% of respondents saying they are anxious about job security because they are working in a temporary, casual or part-time position and trying to find permanent employment. But even more than that, it is the changing nature of work that is fueling this anxiety many of us feel about our job security.

Where possible, automation, computers and digital technology will replace jobs to create a more efficient future. And while it is almost certain that it will replace some jobs, it will also create new jobs. The World Economic Forum estimates that 65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in new job types that don’t yet exist.

Remaining relevant and responding to change.

Although the future is uncertain, and it is somewhat justified to feel anxious about job security, it’s important to remember that it is low skill, repetitive jobs that are at a higher risk of digital disruption than those which require creativity and non-routine tasks. Computers may be able to do certain repetitive tasks quicker than humans, but interpersonal relationships, human empathy, leadership and other soft skills will become increasingly important in the future, as these are key to our humanity and are irreplaceable by digital technologies.

As we think about and prepare for this uncertain future, it is important to remain responsive in the midst of change. Relevance is ensured when we survey the sector or industry we work in, track the changes and respond. Ensuring that we take opportunities to up-skill and continue learning will be key to thriving in these times of great change.

In a world that is increasingly mobile, it is no longer a career or life but many careers and jobs for life, in fact 17 jobs across 5 careers for the emerging generation of school leavers today (Generation Z). A great report by the Foundation for Young Australians shows that we need to be equipped with transferable skills – things like creativity, digital skills, presentation skills and critical thinking. Skills that we can transfer across different roles and sectors. And not only is it important for our next generation to be equipped with these, but so too should we all have a focus on enhancing these skills so that we remain future-proofed in these uncertain times.

McCrindle’s Head of Communications, Ashley Fell had a chat to George and Paul on 2GB about this, which you can listen to here: