Technological innovation is predominantly shaping the future of work. How society will harness new technologies and, in turn, the labour market, is starting to become clear.
As workers, we need to navigate complex career pathways. To do this, the support of government, business and educational institutions will be crucial.
Laying the groundwork for the future of work
The Swinburne University of Technology report ‘Peak Human Potential: Preparing Australia’s workforce for the digital future’ outlines the role technology has played in instigating a widespread revolution in modern workplaces.
By mapping the pathways of future careers, the report provides three recommendations to guide workers, government and business in building the key skills workers need to succeed in the future world of work.
A survey on the future of work 2020 and beyond
The report aims to better understand Australian workers’ views towards the future of work, with recommendations based on a survey of 1000 professionals across a range of occupations.
Of those surveyed, a key finding was that while 56 per cent expect that their work will require them to have mastered skills they currently lack in as little as five years’ time, three in four are motivated to learn new skills in the next 12 months.
Government, industry and educational institutions have a responsibility to harness this optimism and engage individual talent by providing compelling opportunities for professionals to upskill. The report’s core recommendations provide a framework for creating these opportunities.
Recommendation #1: “Learning workers”
The report’s first recommendation is that to adequately prepare workers for future workplaces, workers will need to become ‘learning workers’, who are able to ‘adapt and evolve in continuously changing digital environments, augmenting their ability through technology, while creating value for their organisation at the same time’.
It is here that education institutions have a vital role to play, equipping students with advanced knowledge and skills. As many students are mid-career working professionals, the opportunity to upskill through online study becomes increasingly important.
Swinburne Online offers a range of study options including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that provide in-depth knowledge and skills in addition to a formal qualification and innovative, industry-focused short courses designed to respond to the emerging need for workers to upskill in specialised areas and support continuous learning.
Recommendation #2: Integrate learning into work
The survey presented respondents with a selection of learning formats and found that the majority of people held a preference for on-the-job learning and work-integrated learning programs.
In a world where skills-based self-learning is vital for workers, employers need to be advocates of industry-connected learning opportunities, in partnership with education institutions.
The proposed solution is to integrate learning directly into work, developing new learning models where work and learning can converge productively.
Learning for the future of work needs to mimic work of the future. The best way to achieve this is to increasingly immerse learning in work environments – for workers and students alike.
Micro-credentials, such as Swinburne Online’s micro units and other short courses–co-designed in partnership with industry–are just one way education institutions are providing working professionals with the opportunity to upskill online with skills directly relevant to their professional practice.
Recommendation #3: We need a new learning infrastructure
For educational institutions to offer work-integrated learning, new forms of industry partnership need to be envisioned and implemented.
‘We need a new learning infrastructure that drives deep and continuous connections between educators and employers supported by government’.
In addition to short courses, Swinburne Online also offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses that synthesise learning and work, with an industry-leading emphasis on cultivating practical and specialised skillsets for the modern workplace.
It is the experienced and dedicated learning designers – who build learning modules and curate course content – and teaching staff that make this possible, using their industry knowledge to contextualise learning in a workplace context, leading to strong employment and career advancement outcomes.
Government will also have an important role to play, coordinating and encouraging the connections between education and industry.
A human touch for the future of work in a digital world
With a considered and forward-thinking approach, educators, employers and individuals can work together to adapt to the changing world of work.
The value that human workers offer through soft skills such as critical thinking, creativity and stakeholder management can’t be automated or replaced. The strong partnerships formed between education providers, industry and government that support the development of these indispensable human skills are crucial.
If done well, talented and committed professionals will continue to find themselves in high demand in their career, and society as a whole will benefit from the transformative potential these innovative technologies are poised to deliver.
Swinburne Online is committed to its industry partnerships, and providing a wealth of opportunities for students to acquire essential skills for the future world of work.