Workforce | Skills

Business as usual approach to future of work not an option

The nature of the future of work is changing; where we work, the way we work, what we will do for work and the standard of living that the work will provide, Queensland Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills, the Hon. Shannon Fentiman, told a CEDA audience in Brisbane.

Ms Fentiman said that future work will be driven by block chain technology, augmented reality and AI, with the challenge to policy makers of how to harness this technology to drive productivity, growth and the standard of living.

“Our industries and workers aren’t new to change, it’s just that the change is happening so much faster and on a much larger scale than ever before,” she said.

“Every industrial revolution has signalled tremendous shifts in workforce requirements and each time, workforce participation and employment has increased not decreased as a result of the change.

“Under the leadership of Professor Coaldrake, Jobs Queensland initiates independent research, data analysis and policy work to help us plan, and they have explored what the future of work could look like in 2030.”

A business as usual approach is not an option, Ms Fentiman said, with the Government accepting all the recommendations in Jobs Queensland’s latest report, Future work, future jobs, preparing Queensland for the evolution of work.

“Change is inevitable, but we can manage transitions,” she said.

“Our 2030 vision is one that caters for transitions in the Queensland economy, providing for more jobs in more industries.

“We’re already investing in the skills to drive this transformation.

“Earlier this month I opened the new rural centre of excellence at the Toowoomba TAFE.

“The agricultural industry supports over 300,000 jobs here in Queensland and the sector has undergone many transformations in workforce demands.

“Every previous technological revolution has left it fundamentally transformed and this one will be no different with advancing technologies and the impact of climate change. The challenge is equipping future agricultural workers with the training to meet these challenges.

“Our $2.7 million rural centre of excellence opens up these training opportunities.

“Video analysis of stock in simulated sale yards, high yield farming methods, land use and mapping by smart bots and drones, is being taught right now in Queensland in Toowoomba to be applied anywhere in the world.

“Part of the new centre is an innovative horticultural growth pod and it addresses the need to condense agricultural footprints; the pod condenses the growing potential by 1000 square metres to just 36 square metres.

“It would fit perfectly in the average suburban backyard. 

“As the sustainability response, it consumes 90 per cent less water and can grow green leafy vegetables indefinitely.

“Its internal ecosystems, watering, humidity, lighting and even feeding all happen on an app.

“Our TAFE students are learning all of this right now as part of their studies, ready for the future jobs in a rapidly changing industry.”

Ms Fentiman said the education system must also build pathways to industry, with the Government expanding the gateways to industries’ schools programs.

“Queensland is leading the nation with Vocational Educational Training (VET) in schools.

“We have half the nations’ school-based apprenticeships and trainees.

“Nine out of 10 jobs predicted to grow the most will require VET, so embedding strong pathways, working with industries in our schools, will ensure we have the skilled workforce that we need.”

Telstra Group Executive, Transformation and People, Alex Badenoch, referencing CEDA research, said 40 per cent of Australian jobs are expected to be impacted by digitalisation and automation.

“Ten years ago, nobody had heard of block chain, 3D printing technician or a virtual reality designer, those are some of the jobs that are tipped to increase in our employment market over the next five years,” she said.

“While there is absolutely a huge opportunity to improve productivity and build a knowledge-based economy, by harnessing technological change and investing in STEAM skills, which will cause disruption, I choose to believe there’s more opportunity than threat.

“The continued advancement in digital technology and connectivity, at a rate we certainly have never seen before, is fundamentally changing the nature of work.

“It’s not a will it, or when will it, it’s already happening today.

“New skills and capabilities are needed for those new technologies and that’s clearly becoming undeniable.

“There’s a huge lag between when a university or a TAFE builds curriculum and when those graduates come into market and are ready to work in businesses so we need to be getting ahead of the curve and I’d like to suggest we’re slightly behind that curve already.

“What is often forgotten or not talked about, is the fact that a human’s skill and capability will become more valuable than ever as technology evolves.

“We need to move away from it being a people versus technology discussion. It’s about how we bring those attributes together so that we can deliver the very best outcomes.

“This needs to include all education providers and particularly TAFEs who have been traditionally viewed as focused on trades but are now playing an important role particularly in technology, with some being the ones who are leading the way on micro credentials.

“We need to learn and test together, because if we’re idle or if we wait for that perfect solution that will probably never come, it will be too late.”

Event presentations

Alex Badenoch, Telstra MP3

The Hon. Shannon Fentiman MP, Minister for Employment and Small Business and Minister for Training and Skills Development MP3

Moderated discussion MP3

Delegate handout PDF