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‘Tech is eating jobs’: Why Aussie workers will need to ditch old skills

Technology is eating our jobs, and we need to reimagine the workforce. Source: Getty/Swinburne University

Sean Gallagher will speak about why technology is eating our jobs at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on the 26th September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.

“Technology is eating jobs from the bottom up.”

And according to Swinburne University’s future of work expert, Sean Gallagher, tech will feast on task-based work first, and then make its way up.

“Most work in most institutions today is task based work,” Gallagher said.

“These tasks are highly specified, they're integrated with each other, they're routine and predictable. This is exactly what technology is going to displace.”

And it’s a fact Aussies already know.

Gallagher said almost three in five Aussie workers don't think their current skill set is going to see them out the next five years in terms of their work, and around 51 per cent of them worry they’ll lose their jobs to artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.

What jobs won’t be squashed by technology?

Gallagher predicts jobs which require us to foresee challenges to the workforce that need a tech solution will be in demand.

“The bottom line is, for workers to be value creators, they're focused on new challenges and unforeseen problems that the company or their organisation is yet to experience.”

“So moving away from I'm just producing widgets to I'm going to figure out what a future widget needs to look like in order for my business, my organisation, my company to continue to enhance its competitive advantage.”

And Gallagher said to survive, workers are going to need to pull together as a team.

“It's not about necessarily being an innovator, but it's about using your experience, particularly when you're external facing.”

“So you understand, you have that tacit knowledge and insight as to how the customers are reacting in certain situations or the changes in the environments around you.”

Collaboration is key

Gallagher ran the US Study Centre at Sydney University for almost 10 years, and part of that program involved taking students to foreign destinations in the US and China to learn as a cohort.

“It was striking to see how they all learned through each other, and how that amplified the learning of every individual but also as a group,” he said.

“In many ways that is exactly what the future of work is.”

“The future of humans at work is coming together diverse groups all with a particular skill set or an experience or an expertise, but focusing on an unforeseen challenge or a new opportunity or problem that they haven't seen before and trying to figure it out.”

Yahoo Finance's All Markets Summit will be held on September 26th 2019. Source: Yahoo Finance

Are companies helping employees stay employed?

While Aussies are keen to learn new skills on the job to tackle technology disruption, Gallagher said ‘an enormous challenge’ he sees in workplaces across the country is that employers aren’t facilitating that.

“They [employers] see that workers, to prepare for the future of work, should be going externally through formal education opportunities.”

“I actually think that workers have got it right and that we need to ensure that learning is better integrated into workplaces right across the country because that's where the disruption is occurring.”

But Aussie workplaces have a long way to go, with only two in five workers reporting their workplace encourages collaboration.

“That's extraordinary. Sixty percent of Australian workplaces, according to Australian workers, do not encourage collaboration.”

“Yet, that's the most valuable way in which workers are going to learn.”

Sean Gallagher will speak about why technology is eating our jobs at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on the 26th September 2019 in the Shangri-La, Sydney. Check out the full line-up of speakers and agenda for this groundbreaking event here.