August 25, 2015
Preparing young people for the future of work is an issue of national importance – and one that is preoccupying the minds of a growing number of Australian business and government leaders.
The Foundation for Young Australians’ new report The New Work Order confirms the view of advanced manufacturing companies that the skills needed for future work are changing dramatically.
“Technology is enabling companies to work remotely with their global customers and suppliers,” says John Pollaers, Chair of the AAMC. “And smart machines are performing more tasks, enabling manufacturers to remain competitive.
“At the same time, employment opportunities are growing in our advanced industries, despite what some may think – and these jobs are requiring more highly skilled workers,” he said.
The Australian Industry Group has called for greater STEM focus in teacher training and in the school curriculum to meet the demands of industry over coming decades.
Speaking last week during National Science Week, chief executive Innes Willox highlighted a deficit in STEM skills, saying only 18 per cent of the current workforce held these qualifications.
“Despite STEM skills being essential to the jobs of the future, we still need to be doing a lot more to equip our current and future workforce with the skills necessary to ensure our competitiveness,” he said.
In the United States, The Brookings Institution says that as traditional manufacturing jobs continue to disappear, new manufacturing jobs are taking over. Familiarity with higher-level skills such as coding will be critical as the role of technology continues to grow.
US data shows advanced industries have led the post-recession jobs recovery. The sector added almost one million jobs from 2010-2013, or almost 18 per cent of total jobs growth in the US.
Ensuring that workforce skills keep pace with changing technology is the challenge. The Foundation for Young Australians says there is growing awareness of the need to boost digital literacy and technical skills but more is needed. Read the report here.