Following are the eleven experts interviewed to explore and speak to the current trends and discoveries made in the literature. Based on the experience they bring from their fields of expertise, they helped to design the 100 Jobs of the Future. Each expert represents someone who can speak with authority and with transdisciplinary understandings on future work in their domains.
Megan Brownlow is a former Partner and former National Industry Leader for Telecommunications, Media and Technology (TMT) at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) where she performed strategy, due diligence, forecasting and market analysis work for clients. Megan also lead PwC’s industry thought leadership program, The Outlook, which forecasts future revenues and trends across 12 TMT sectors. She started her career as a broadcast journalist in radio and television.
According to Megan, the world of work is about to experience significant changes in both the employer / employee relationship and in what employees will be expected to do. People will be much more likely to be self-employed, while working in a variety of teams that form and dissolve depending on the task to be performed and the skill-sets of those in the team. Everyone will need to be in more control of their own career path, in honing their skills to ensure they remain relevant, learning to be able to promote themselves, and to manage the financial and time management aspects of working for more than one organization and in more than one team at a time. Work will increasingly involve creativity in ways that few jobs do today, as technology displaces the dull, dangerous and dirty jobs of the past. The future will not only belong to those able to learn and change as the rules of the workplace change, but also to those innovators who are able to change the rules themselves, rather than waiting for them to change. We are increasingly able to curate the entertainment we receive so that it matches our personal tastes, but this means we may feel isolated, and so will also desire shared experiences — this means that finding ways to involve us in live events that are increasingly mediated by technology will open up major new fields of entertainment. Data is increasingly important, as will be those able to interpret, explain and communicate the meaning lying behind that data in ways everyone can understand. The accelerating shift from a production towards a service economy will make better designed human and interpersonal interfaces a central concern of all business models. Finding ways to encourage everyone in society to better engage and participate to their fullest will require people with a deep understanding of intercultural, cross-generational, and gendered behaviours who can approach others with the empathy needed to create technologically driven spaces where everyone will feel welcomed and involved.
Ford Motor Company
Sheryl Connelly has served as Ford Motor Company’s futurist for more than a decade. She is responsible for identifying global trends, exploring potential implications and cascading these insights on futuring to organizations throughout the company, including design, product development and corporate strategy. She is a member of the Global Advisory Council on transportation for the World Economic Forum. Fast Company magazine named her one of the Most Creative People in Business in 2013 and 2015. Connelly has been a featured speaker at TED Global. Before working for Ford, she practiced law.
Sheryl says that while the past belonged to those with a deep understanding and highly specialised skills, the future will reward polymaths: that is, those with a sweep of knowledge across a broad range of disciplines. In fact, being able to see connections and the unexpected applications of knowledge derived from one sphere and how it might be applied in new and interesting ways will be a key driver of innovation and human creativity. Such transdisciplinary knowledge will link technology and artificial intelligence with human creativity making that world much more human in the process. In the past, people were often expected to fit themselves to technology, and this often made people feel like an insignificant cog in a much larger machine. The new technological environment will become more person-centred, tailoring the world to our needs and desires, whether that is purely focused on entertainment or on personalised medicine or upon the share economy that will allow us to have more while owning less. All of this will exist within the constant connectivity that has already brought about significant social changes, however, there are downsides to being constantly connected to the world in terms of our mental health and levels of anxiety. We will see the rise of preventative, rather than responsive, health care, including mindfulness. We will also increasingly find ways for people to disconnect from our hyperconnected world for some downtime. Many of the jobs of the future will involve finding ways to hack our lives to make them easier and more rewarding, automating the mundane tasks we have to do while presenting us with more options and better ways to achieve our goals. The ethical, intercultural and cross-cultural issues associated with living in the new spaces technology will provide for us will require new classes of specialists able to protect us in those spaces and to ensure that we are treated ethically while we navigate them. All of which will involve people with the skills to think across fields and to see the possibilities these new ways of interacting will enable.
National Farmers Federation
Mark joined National Farmers Federation (NFF) as Manager Rural Affairs in 2016. Prior to this, Mark was a/g CEO of the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, as well as Policy Director of the Cattle Council of Australia. Both organisations are members of NFF. Prior to that, Mark worked for the Australian Government across a range of roles, including Assistant Director, Meat and Livestock Policy at the then Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry, and as Departmental Liaison Officer for the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government. Mark is admitted as a Lawyer in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory.
Representing the National Farmers Federation, Mark made many points about the need for better connectivity (or internet access) across rural and regional Australia. With access: health issues can be managed and reduced, innovation may increase as farmers will have access to a greater variety of input knowledge and examples, and technologies regarding farm management and production (including farm data) can become cloud accessible. Farmers will need consultancy support to transition to this digital way of farming, while design and manufacturing of the technology (software, hardware — precision farming, automated equipment, livestock monitoring and management, and drone operations for monitoring and weed control are some examples) is also needed. Global food security issues, climate change, and our changing relationship with food will result in new commodity development, ethical and production challenges, and international trade opportunities. Urban farming may come to be profitable, coinciding with a potential shift of the population out to the regional and rural areas where farm gate sales will generate tourism opportunities and produce reconsidering of transport needs.
Queensland University of Technology
Professor Daniel Johnson leads the QUT Games Research and Interaction Design Lab. Daniel has also worked in the games industry with companies such as NextGenVideos and The Binary Mill. His research interests include motivations for videogame play, the player experience, the impact of videogames on wellbeing, and gamification. He worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge for the Engineering Design Centre and remains an Affiliate of the Cambridge University Wellbeing Institute. Over the past decade, Daniel has undertaken consultancies exploring usability, user-experience and design issues in entertainment and non-leisure software.
The future will belong to those who can make the most of joining the unique advantages of humans and machines, and, as Daniel points out, especially in ways that design experiences that enhance all aspects of life. So much of life is full of things we find tedious. With the ongoing development of game technologies, designers will make the boring amusing. They will do this by transforming the interfaces we interact with and how data is collected. User interface designers will use their deep understanding of human nature and the capabilities of technology, so as to ensure our interactions are seamless, intuitive and natural. Increasingly, we expect to be amused and engaged at all times and in all of our interactions, and this will require highly creative people who are able to structure our interactions in ways that engage and delight us, and this is not a job likely to be replaced by machines any time soon. However, as the new technology will have the potential to gather deeply personal information about us, we will need to develop ways to protect and enhance our personal, physical and emotional wellbeing. Navigating the complexities of surveillance, privacy and the capabilities of new technology will require experts who can help us decide how much or how little of our lives we should be sharing and with whom. If used effectively, technology will allow us to interact with others in ways that will allow each of us to bring out the best of our skills and abilities. Key skills for the future workforce will include being able to interact and communicate across teams, knowing how and when to use technology to solve problems and how to ensure our physical and mental wellbeing, learning to create environments that bring joy, that create spaces for us to be together, and to enable us to change the world in ways that will humanise technology, the world of work, and all other aspects of our lives.
Department of Jobs
Ivan Neville is currently the manager of the Labour Market Research and Analysis Branch and has responsibility for the analysis of the Australian labour market and the identification of the current and future demand for skills. This involves speaking with more than 10,000 employers each year. The branch seeks feedback from employers on how new and young job seekers can enhance their employment opportunities, and Ivan regularly gives presentations around the country on both this topic and a broad range of other labour market issues.
With an ageing, growing population, carer roles will continue to be needed. In the future these roles will expand such that emotional intelligence and creativity will become a central focus. Similarly, health practices will benefit from becoming increasingly technological as we develop tools to understand and explore health issues with greater complexity and accuracy. As more people move to running their own micro-businesses, the need for ‘wrap-around’ services that support them in managing the varied aspects of successful business administration will multiply. These will act as brokers or contractors specialising in helping those managing their gig careers to multiply. Regional centres will become much more appealing and will offer increasing benefits as community becomes much more valued. Skills of communication, marketing, information management, and technology use will become core to many jobs, and these skills will increasingly be held in the one person.
David Ramadge is the Senior Director of Product & Shipping at eBay Australia. He has over a decade of global technology product and business leadership, both within commerce and other software disciplines. In 2017 Dave re-joined eBay after nearly 10 years based in Silicon Valley, where he oscillated between innovating at scale in large technology companies and building startups. Between his two eBay stints, Dave worked at Google in Product Strategy & Operations on products such as Google Maps and Local Search. He was also Co-Founder & COO of Neoglyphic Entertainment, a start-up focused on building advanced 3D and machine learning software for content creation and discovery in the entertainment industry.
David focused the discussion on powerful futures coming from a combination of big data analytics and artificial intelligence — machines that can build other machines, and algorithms that can anticipate our needs. He talked of emerging technologies such as materials and propulsion science driven by space exploration, and 3D printing with an expanding range of applications, for instance including synthetic meat. He focused on the increasing complementarity of machines and humans, for instance, with health technologies and their application in diet apps, health trackers etc. Commentators talk about the ‘singularity’ where the dividing line between human and computer becomes blurred to the point where we can no longer distinguish them as separate. He saw the next step for machines will be for software to be developed that can interpret how to generate and use data to get at people’s underlying thoughts and emotions. He was optimistic that humans, in 20 years, will remain ahead of machines in our ability to make decisions on data, in creativity, ethical mindedness and emotional intelligence. The level of technological understanding will increase for all jobs of the future, but jobs will open up for people who can successfully stand between people and machines, and who can understand people, think creatively and abstractly around algorithmic software, and blend these skills to make software more powerful, intuitive and rewarding. His advice: ‘Learn how to code, and learn how to paint’.
National Farmers Federation
Ben Rogers has a wealth of experience in the Industrial Relations/Workplace Relations area both as Principal Solicitor in the ACT Government, and previously with Comcare and private legal practices in New South Wales. The National Farmers Federation has begun a bold project to identify how to harness technology to boost innovation and productivity across the agriculture sector, so as to reach new markets, attract the best human talent and lighten our environmental footprint. Ben’s role at the National Farmers Federation focuses on how this may impact the world of work now and into the future.
Speaking from the perspective of food production through agriculture / horticulture, Ben acknowledged that these careers are going to become even more technological. Farmers will further rely on machines, computers, and programs to support production. Precision farming, land management, harvesting including fruit picking may all include drone and robot technologies. Farming skills will move beyond managing complex changing natural systems toward integrating technological tools into the production process. Specialised training and trainers will be needed to use and manage these technologies. Farms will need support to manage safety aspects of new technology and this with app development for machine operating instructions, compliance checking, and training all opening as growth areas and industries.
City Futures Research Centre
Professor Susan Thompson is an urban planner and Head of the City Wellbeing Program in the City Futures Research Centre. City Wellbeing focuses on planning, designing and building environments that support people’s health and well-being as part of everyday life. Susan’s academic career encompasses research and teaching in areas ranging from social and cultural diversity in urban planning, to migrant women’s meanings of home, and the use of qualitative research in built environment disciplines. Susan is a frequent contributor to professional practice forums on issues such as healthy urban planning, cultural diversity and community safety.
For Susan, technologies bring different possibilities in how we might interact both with each other, and with the world around us. However, no technological change is simply positive or without problems of its own, since any change can bring to the fore new challenges. Many of the issues we face today are ‘wicked’ or extremely complex problems. Even if a solution to one aspect of the problem is found, it can inadvertently make other aspects worse. Susan believes the best way to address wicked problems is by bringing different people together with optimism and a shared concern for their own communities. Susan believes technology can help to connect us both as individuals to one another, as well as a purposeful, democratic community. In particular, the environmental problems we face, including those caused by consumerism, pollution and waste, will best be solved by us working together to understand our needs as a community and to see if we can use technology as a tool to make everyone’s life better. In this sense, we have much to learn from Indigenous communities, who retain an ongoing and strong connection to both land and community. Susan focuses on creating urban environments where people flourish, not merely as individuals, but as citizens, communities and cultures.
Jude Walker is a labour market analyst, futurist and demographer. She conducts environmental scans and uses these, and the results of her other research projects, to start data conversations with groups, including schools and business groups. She provides insights into the future of work, particularly in relation to the introduction of new technologies. She works to identify how education/ training, employment and economic sectors might work together more effectively to contribute towards better social and economic outcomes.
Jude emphasised in her conversation the need to provide young people with cross-sector capability. She described, to achieve this, a model which outlines a set of thinking capabilities: futures thinking; persistence thinking; complexity thinking; entrepreneurial thinking; and design thinking. In talking about preparing for the future she argued that youth need citizenship and communal living skills. They need to think deeply about their values and relationship to people, and they need to learn how to learn. In the future world of work, where stability in jobs will no longer be the norm, people need change resilience and risk tolerance. Describing the focus of future jobs, she emphasised the importance of translation work — at the interface between technologies and people. Future jobs will involve understanding how to interact effectively with people, alongside being comfortable with technology. Helping people translate and adapt new technologies will be an area of future job growth.
Deakin University - Institute for Frontier Materials
Professor Wang is Director of ARC Research Hub for Future Fibres and Pro Vice-Chancellor, Future Fibres at Deakin University. He leads the University’s fibre and textile related research activities. He served as the Director of the Institute for Frontier Materials at Deakin University until end of 2017. The Institute is multidisciplinary, bringing together researchers from engineering, chemistry, materials science, physics, biology, mathematics and other disciplines to develop new materials and structures that are affordable, suitable to purpose and sustainable. Professor Wang investigates new applications for fibres and textiles, and how to add value to natural fibres and in functionalising textiles.
The workforce will change to explore multi-disciplinary skills, which are needed to generate additive manufacturing. For example mechanical, electrical, programming skills will each be required and will be found in one person or one team. Working collaboratively in teams ensures that ideas are considered from multiple perspectives and products can be manufactured with greater capacity and complexity. Robots will be involved in more complex, collaborative thinking too, which will require a higher level of programming skill than is currently known. This includes considering the design of products from biomimicry where nature ensures energy and materials are minimised in production and combined in elegant solutions. There is a lot of problem solving in this thinking and design. It also includes circular economics where material utilisation is designed carefully and materials area harvested from other products and separated to be used again after this product is used / finished. Mass customisation will become the way of shopping as everything is infinitely tailored to suit personal tastes and body shape. Imaging technology will be available as a phone app that will translate body images into measurements to generate individualised and customised products. Learning may change and become more focused instead of longer programs, specific courses will become preferential.
Sally Ann Williams
Sally-Ann Williams is Executive Program Manager at Google Australia where she leads efforts in CS/STEM education (K-12); research collaborations with universities; entrepreneurship and startup engagement. Her work leading Google’s CS/STEM education engagement is focused on scalable and sustainable change in curriculum and teacher professional development to support national priorities in STEM education in Australia and New Zealand. In working with the startup community, Sally-Ann has helped create and drive national engagement strategies on innovation and entrepreneurship including serving on the Board of Fishburners (Australia’s largest Tech co-working space), contributing to the foundation of StartupAUS (a non-profit working to transform Australia through tech entrepreneurship), and mentoring startups through many different programs. She also leads Google’s University Research engagements in Australia & New Zealand.
A major theme in Sally-Ann’s exploration of work futures was the need to harness technology to address solutions to problems that the designers of the technology didn’t anticipate. Workers of the future who can do this will need a deep understanding of human-computer interactions, as well as the ability to creatively adapt these technologies using their knowledge and insights from across a range of disciplines. Their passion for solving problems will be driven by an innovative approach to addressing human needs. For Sally-Ann, the strength of computer science is not about coding, but in the capacity it develops in people enabling them to break down complex problems, to think algorithmically, while being creative and solution focused. She emphasised that individuals need both knowledge and passion for their discipline, but that this needs to be combined with a breadth of understanding and increasingly also with ICT knowledge. At the work organisation level, she emphasised the need to trust and empower the creative possibilities available in cross disciplinary teams that are focused on design. The future for organizations lies in their developing cultures and habits of adaptability directed towards proactive creation. For individuals, the future will reward those able to invent their own job titles.