Future of Work

The National Furture Work Summit held in Sydney on 30 October 2018 as part of Spark Festival aimed to re-set the narrative towards what Australia should be doing to transition our workforce and our economy in preparation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Moderated by Carina Parisella from ANZ Digital Banking and Maria MacNamara, a Spark Festival Board member, a recurring theme throughout the day was that the future is now – it’s happening all around us and we need to take advantage of the huge range of programs on offer to help us get prepared!

With many jobs set to be automated in coming years and roles emerging that will require new skills and talent, Summit participants discussed the need for urgency in getting education, human resources and policy settings right in a global context.

Another focus was the attributes that will become more in demand as the economy continues to change, and the role of our tertiary and vocational education sectors in preparing the future workforce for the challenges ahead. Lifeling learning was identified as key to planning for the future and is the question of how to mobilise citizens to inform themselves on the changes that are to come.

Interesting questions over the day included; who’s role is it to create workers with the high level analytical thinking the future workforce needs? How can we develop more creativity, originality and initiative amongst our young? Where can workers go to develop skills in technology design and programming, complex problem-solving and emotional intelligence?

As core skills like reasoning and ideation, systems analysis and evaluation become increasingly more important, workforces and communities alike need to better plan for the waves of transformation on the horizon.

While there will be a significant decline in many jobs, Summit speakers insisted that the opportunities that will emerge are exciting and challenging and do not signal the end of work with robots replacing humans.

Keynote speaker Michael Priddis likened this time of great change to the Renaissance. The CEO of Faethm, Priddis outlined which emerging technologies will have the biggest financial and strategic impact on the world’s organisations, industries and economies.

“This is not the end of work,” he said. “It’s a transformation involving augmentation as well as automation. There will be a huge range of new jobs and roles to explore.”

Priddis urged the audience to consider how the public sector could be upskilled and warned against outsourcing too much civic responsibility to consultants. Existing roles will be augmented in interesting ways as new technologies change how complex organisations operate.

Throughout the day, other speakers including the Hon. Ed Husic, Shadow Minister for Human Services and Digital Transformation, Jordan Hatch, the Deputy CDO of Autrade and a Partner from Accenture  and Krista Jones, Managing Partner of MaRS Discovery District shared insights into how employees can transition and thrive in the new world economy.

Murray Hurps the Director of Entrepreneurship at UTS, Andrea Myles from CAMP, James Spenceley – the Chairman of Airtasker and Julie Trell who heads up Muru-D and is country lead for SheEO discussed the critical role of startups in this new landscape.

The Chief Disruptor Anne-Marie Elias (pictured) gave an impassioned plea for diversity and called on Australian leaders to consider the talent and skills of our refugee and migrant communities who are so often left out of mainstream conversations about the future of work. Elias cited many examples of innovative startups emerging from refugee communities and urged the audience to make more effort to ensure diversity in their programs. Interestingly, many panel members were themselves migrants and spoke passionately about their formative experiences and the resilience of their parents in the face of so many setbacks including racism.

Phil Morle from Main Sequence Ventures and Charlie Day from Innovation Science Australia explored the areas Australian startups and companies should be exploiting. and Dominic Price – Head of R&D and Futurist – Atlassian added his thoughts on how we as individuals can prepare for the future work.

Congratulations to all those involved in this stimulating and provocative Summit.

Find out more about the National Future Work Summit