Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs: Oxford Economics Report Technology Transforming Australian Jobs – the Human Era

  • Research commissioned by Cisco and Oxford Economics uncovers the impact of AI on workers in every sector
  • Predictions across a range of sectors includes Transport, Retail, Healthcare and Agriculture, with analysis into the changes in the labour market by occupational types, and identifies where the skills shortfall will hit the hardest
  • Technology will push Australia towards a new Human Era, with cognitive and social skills increasingly demanded across the board creating a significant need for new skills and upskilling of the workforce
  • 630,000 Australian jobs could be displaced by new technologies over the next decade, with the research forecasting the impact of the income, displacement and net effect for each sector.

A new report by commissioned by Cisco and conducted by Oxford Economics, the leader in global forecasting and quantitative analysis, reveals the impact of technology on Australian jobs and sheds light on how technology is propelling Australia into the Human Era.

Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs shares forecasts for the next decade and the impact that advancing technology will have on Australian workers and their future skill sets across the entire labour market. Deeper insights are provided for eight key sectors: Education, Wholesale & Retail, Mining, Transport, Healthcare, Finance, Agriculture and Utilities.

Using the Oxford Economics Skills Matching Model, the report delves into the changing skills needs in the workforce as technology causes a ‘displacement effect’ on some occupations, but also creates opportunities in others, via the ‘income effect’. The ‘displacement effect’ is the reduction in demand for workers to perform certain tasks, implied by the productivity gains technology will bring. The ‘income effect’ is the increase in demand for workers to produce new and different goods and services, as technology boosts productivity growth and real incomes in the economy. The ‘net effect’ on jobs is the balance between the displacement and income effects, indicating which parts of the economy will see a rise in demand for workers, and which will see a decrease.

A total of 630,000 Australian jobs could be displaced by new technologies over the next decade, which equates to more than 7 per cent of Australia’s current workforce. The net effect of these likely job disruptions and increased requirements illustrates a shift in the Australian workforce over a 10-year period and number of challenges in meeting the required skills to successfully navigate the transition.

Key insights from the report includes:

  • Transport and retail are amongst the sectors most ripe for disruption as technology presents new and evolved opportunities for upskilling workers. Transport will see a need for more roles in technical design, programming and customer service. For retail, e-commerce will boom with increasing needs for programming and technical skills. The role of sales assistant, which will evolve in nature, will also flourish as the need for human connection and personalisation grows.
  • The growth in demand for workers in healthcare will outpace all other sectors of the Australian economy over the next 10 years, with close to 80,000 new jobs created.
  • Across the entire labour market, 350,000 workers will find themselves in jobs that require an upgrade of their active listening, speaking and critical thinking skills.
  • More than one third of workers transitioning into new positions will need to upgrade their softer human skills, including coordination, negotiation and persuasion, to meet the demands of their new role.
  • Overall, the need for workers to sharply improve their proficiency in programming is apparent as each industry is currently up to 60 per cent short of the required skill-level. In addition, cognitive and social skills will be highly sought after across the board.

Commenting on the findings, Managing Director of Enterprise and Digital Transformation Office at Cisco Australia and New Zealand, Sam Gerner, says: “Over the next 10 years, the pace of technological change will be highly disruptive to the world of work, with the greatest potential to deliver great rewards. Most exciting is the positive opportunity for the Australian economy with the shift in labour market. The income effect provides a huge opportunity for digital transformation, and plenty of disruption. The idea of this transition can occur with appropriate support from industry and government, and the growth of the income effect provides a real opportunity for Australia.”

Mr Gerner added, “A key insight is the gap and the requirement for a far more developed set of skills around the human factors such as critical thinking, active learning. These are the skills that make us so much more efficient than technology. What we are seeing is these skills will become more highly valued in the years to come.”

Technology enabling the ‘human era’

Technology will displace and transform jobs – as well as create many new ones – pushing the Australian workforce into skilled roles which focus on human connection, compassion and ethical decisions, along with programming, technical design and installation and maintenance – roles which computers could never replace.

Human skills such as listening, speaking, critical thinking, negotiation, and persuasion skills will be most in demand, paving the way for the human factor to increase in importance and value, enabled by technology.

Oxford Economics Director of Economic Consulting, Asia, James Lambert shares his view on the impact technology has on the workforce; “From the industrial revolution through to the modern digital era, workers have commonly defined their value by their ability to use technology. Now, as technological capabilities expand deeper into the workplace, it is ‘human skills’ that increasingly define an employee’s value.”

You can find more details on how technology will impact Australia’s labour market and the future of Australian jobs, how Australia compares to other countries, as well as insights into the jobs displacement effect, the income effect and the re-skilling challenge in the Technology and Future of Australian Jobs report, available here.


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