Before the technology revolution, parents with Gen Y kids would take pride the fact that their offspring were better at using the VCR than they were.
But in a few short years, rapid advances in technology have meant these same people have had to adapt or perish in an increasingly digital workplace.
Thousands of jobs that have kept people gainfully employed for decades – if not centuries – have been wiped out, disrupted or altered beyond recognition at a unprecedented pace. And it’s not going to stop.
A new report from CEDA estimates that almost 5 million jobs, or 40 per cent of the workforce, “face a high probability of being replaced by computers in the next 10 to 15 years”.
Manufacturing is a prime example of an industry that has experienced widespread disruption thanks to improvements in automation technology; others include agriculture, mining and media.
But before you start to panic, keep in mind that change is not necessarily a bad thing.
According to consultant Sue Beitz, “while there have been large job losses in some occupations, particularly in lower skilled production and administration roles, the gains generated by productivity-enhancing technologies tended to create demand via higher incomes and lower prices. This has generated new jobs economy-wide.”
As you can see from the figure below, for every job lost in Australia over the fives years to June 2014, we created 6.5 new jobs.
The trick is to make sure that you have the right skill set and education to add value in a digitally enhanced workplace.
Successful workers of the future will be educated, digitally competent, entrepreneurial and creative. Above all, they must be willing to learn and adapt in an ever-changing world.
According to CEDA, “if we do not embrace economic reform and focus on increasing innovation, we will simply be left behind in an increasingly competitive global marketplace”.
Image: Will Smith in the 2004 film I, Robot