While we are optimistic about the outlook for jobs of the future, there is no doubt that some jobs and people will be impacted more than others. In the past, it has been sufficient to address a lag of skills to jobs over time. These days, people and businesses that don’t keep pace with technological change are disadvantaged, and this has broader impacts on our economy. Failure to understand the potentially disruptive changes ahead will be a barrier to preparing workforces for the future.

To the extent that technology disrupts the workforce and some will lose out – the policy issues we face today are the same that have been faced and dealt with in the past. Essentially these are:

  • Ensuring everyone can participate in the workforce, notwithstanding how it is changing./li>
  • Facilitating the adjustment and employment of workers who are displaced due to technological change.

These translate to digital inclusion, managing those in transition and more fundamentally, skills, education and training. For some, this may involve simple re-skilling or up-skilling. For others, their jobs may change substantially and at worse, disappear. Providing opportunities for workers to re-skill and up-skill is critical to ensuring potentially disrupted workers are not displaced or worse, dislocated from the broader community.

How these issues are played out should not be left to chance. The extent to which existing laws, regulations and policies are keeping pace with changing technology, work conditions and emerging workplace structures, is unclear – and it’s very likely these will require adjustment.

Rather than deal with problems after they reach a crisis, there is an opportunity for policy makers to anticipate and respond to issues, and minimise negative or damaging impacts well in advance. Early identification of impediments to digital inclusion will lead to greater labour market participation down the line.

Intervention means developing proactive, practical strategies to build Australia’s digital literacy capabilities, and prevent social and economic dislocation. ICT and digital leaders can expertly inform the nature, timeframes and impacts of new technologies, and with Government, develop appropriate workforce transition and risk mitigation strategies.

ICT and digital leaders must start working proactively with Government and communities to increase awareness of technology developments on the horizon, and to better understand and anticipate the wider social and economic impacts.

Find out exactly where Industry and Government stand together stand – navigate technology and the jobs of the future at our Summit 22 March in Canberra!