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With robots taking over our jobs, you have an important choice to make

“Drive for economic growth means less jobs in the future as companies focus on profits, outsourcing and automation.'” –Peter Hunt AM at Creative Innovation Global 2017

We have all heard the warning bells:

“Robots are taking over our jobs!”

Whether we like it or not, the anxiety isn’t unfounded.

During the industrial revolution, machines replaced human labourers to perform simple manual tasks. As a result, whole industries of people lost their jobs.

Until recently, many believed that professional services workers would be spared the same fate.

Surely machines couldn’t perform cognitive tasks? Those special roles requiring uniquely human skills like empathy or judgment?


Well… this isn’t entirely true.

In the next decade, it is likely that artificial intelligence tools will have the ability to perform complex tasks – tasks once the exclusive domain of highly qualified professionals, including, according to this article in the Harvard Business Review, even doctors and lawyers.

How is a new graduate or job seeker supposed to react to this?

One way could be to resist the inevitable adoption of AI and robotics in the workforce. This might allow a worker to hold onto a job for as long as possible. This is an understandable reaction. People need jobs to make money that pays for essential needs like rent, food and transport.

It may also be tempting to blame others for the lack of opportunities. People might believe the world is against them and that if others weren’t so selfish, they would have a fair chance too.

Or, alternatively, some of you might want to eschew those beliefs.

Instead, you might decide that your fate is in your hands.

Human beings, after all, are born innately industrious, adaptable, resourceful and bursting with potential. It is this potential that can prepare you for a world that is rapidly changing – a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world.

One of the tools that might serve you is the sage advice of Foundation for Young Australian’s (FYA) CEO, Jan Owen AM. The FYA research reveals coveted skills that job seekers will need in order to thrive in the jobs of the future. I asked Ms Owen some questions at the Creative Innovation Global Conference 2017 last week. Her detailed answers are in the video below.

She revealed the skills that the employers of the future are looking for. These are set out below.

But first we asked:

What do the jobs of the future have in common?

Ms Owen replied that the jobs of the future will all have in common the set of skills that used to be called “soft skills”. Skills that were once thought of as “nice to have” but have now become hard, transferrable skills, being:


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  1. Critical thinking
  2. Problem solving
  3. Creativity
  4. Innovation
  5. Digital Skills
  6. Bilingual skills

That’s right. As we enter into what some have been dubbing the “Asian Century” – and during a time where we have greater job mobility – having more cultural intelligence, a heightened understanding of how to work with diverse populations, is going to be super important in the future of work.

What are the Top 3 skills job seekers need?

One of our live viewers from Malaysia asked Ms Owen what are the 3 skills that are most important when seeking to secure a job?

She responded with:

  1. Digital literacy
  2. Bilingual skills / cultural intelligence
  3. Problem solving / critical thinking skills

And, generously, she slipped in these bonus tips:

  1. Creativity & Innovation
  2. Communication skills


The future of work is all about purpose

Importantly, Ms Owen reiterated a trend I had been noticing for some time – the future of work is going to favour jobs that fill us with a sense of purpose.

Ms Owen says that that those who turn their backs on purely profit-oriented jobs in favour of purpose are surfing the wave of the future. More and more millennials, and interestingly Gen Z (the under 18 year olds), need profit and purpose to come together.

The dominant career conversations for under-18 year olds test organisations on these criteria:

  1. Can you do well by the planet?
  2. Can you do well by others, and people?
  3. And can you make profit or can you use your finances to do good in the world?

The research expects that a 15 year old today will have 17 different jobs in 5 different industries and be much more entrepreneurial and comfortable with change.

Her final tip is that people will need to be comfortable building their capability, articulating them and presenting them as a “portfolio of skills” – not just a “list of jobs” – which, as she puts it, is:

“Kind of very twentieth century”.


That’s not all we covered.

Justin Brown asked Ms Owen if there was one thing she could change about how people are managed inside large corporations, what would it be? She was also asked if there is a role for those who are fluent in the humanities and liberal arts, what with all the talk of “STEM’ in innovation?

To gain more kernels of wisdom to future-proof your career, you can listen the whole interview here:

What do the jobs of the future have in common…? Amazing tips in this video.– Jan Owen AM, CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians #ciglobal

Posted by Ideapod on Monday, November 13, 2017



***Do you want to be a stronger person? Do you want to stare down your challenges and overcome any obstacles? If so, check out our eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Mental Toughness.

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Written by Kat Dunn

I like to connect Ideas & people. I talk about discomfort & inspiring failures. I'm trying to sleep more and shift to a growth mindset.

Former lawbot, pilot & leader in finance. Founder of F-OFF: Fear of Failure Forum & working with Ideapod to help companies leverage our collective intelligence & achieve breakthrough thinking.

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