Future of work: Preparing now for what's next
Click the play button above to watch the Future of Work discussion or read the video transcript below:
Vivek Chaudhri, Academic Director of Executive MBA Programs, Melbourne Business School: The future of work to me is really asking some fundamental questions about the labor market. What is the labor force of tomorrow going to look like, and how should we be preparing for that labor force of tomorrow?
Simon Lusted, Managing Director – Strategy and Platforms, SEEK: What's the nature of work going to be in the future, how much work is there going to be, what type of work, who are we going to need to do those works in terms of skills?
Nancy Uyen Do, Graduate – Associate Developer, SEEK: To me, future of work means automation. Introduction of AI into our job markets and the potential of jobs being eroded for humans in the future.
Alex Badenoch, Group Executive Transformation and People, Telstra: With the elimination of any work, there's always the creation of new work. I think it is the emergence of new skills and new requirements and skills mixes in the workforce. And it's not going to be five or ten years away, it is starting to evolve today.
Simon: This is a bit corny, but we're in the future right now, right? So, we're in the middle of a long running, maybe 20-year trend of really quite dramatically changing labor markets.
Vivek: I think what's interesting for this generation is the rate and the dimensionality of change. We’re seeing change around technology. We're seeing change around markets. We're seeing change around governance. We're seeing change around ownership and control.
Alex: We're also seeing the workforce landscape change. So, increasing prevalence of agile methodologies or other flexible or more fluid workforce types.
Simon: Organizations - big ones - are looking out and saying, "Gee, we need 1,500 engineers”. They don't exist in this market. So, that will have a whole bunch of impacts on where they find talent, the flexibility of talent, remote working, blended labor forces. And then as the benefits start to flow through, we'll see all these second order and third order shifts in, "So, how does our culture have to change when so many of our workers are mostly working around emotional and social issues rather than perhaps previously where there are far more technical?"
Nancy: I think when it comes to leadership, it doesn't really matter about your tech skills, it's more about your soft skills, so your communication. How well you work with other people.
Alex: I think soft skills are going to be critical to the future of work. Judgment's really important. Creativity, innovation, there's a whole range of softer skills.
Vivek: Our education system unfortunately was geared largely towards training people to be specialists in certain areas. As we move towards a workforce where there are more and more artificial intelligence, automation, robotics, that means that the training those individuals should be getting is around the arenas of creativity and innovation and critical thinking and strategic thinking. Human attributes that machines won't easily be able to replicate.
Simon: The signals on what education to produce and deliver to the labor force are way too delayed, so what I think will happen is the traditional education model will give way to more responsive education models.
Alex: Are we really thinking about the skills or the capabilities - soft or hard - that we need in new roles and being a little more open-minded to how people can transition to things that we would've never imagined that they could.
Nancy: In the long-term career, I see myself moving in different parts of technology, not just focused in the one. I feel like we can be experts in a couple of fields.
Alex: HR has a really important role to play in most organizations right now. HR needs to get very good at being able to map out a workforce strategy. What's the five-year strategy of the organization. What skills are going to decline, what skills are going to grow, and how that phasing looks over time.
Vivek: There isn't enough of a correlation or a connection between the business strategy and the workforce strategy. Business strategy helps us to think about what we need to do tomorrow, but we probably need to start thinking far more substantively about the changing workforce needs of tomorrow. So absolutely a fundamental aspect of that is the role of HR.
Simon: What it means to me and us here at Seek is we've got a really important role in deploying these technologies in our core products and services, to help candidates and hirers discover each other, to make the marketplace more transparent, to help candidates and hirers signal to each other their fitness and persuade each other that they're the right hire.
Nancy: I feel more excited about where we’re going and about the future.
Vivek: There's a range of issues that companies and governments and society more generally are being challenged by with just change.
Simon: What do we have to do now to prepare ourselves for what could be some pretty fundamental impacts over a 10-year horizon?
Alex: When we think about who needs to take the lead on addressing the implications of future of work, I feel like I’m going to hedge my bets, but I think it actually is a communal issue. It’s too easy to say “Well, government should fix it,” or “corporate should fix it,” because we actually all have different roles to play.
I think the one thing we can't do is just sit back and think let's just see how it turns out.