In my first DIGC335 blog, I highlighted the potential rise in unemployment rates globally as emerging technologies begin to take over our workforce. This concern is prompted by the role technology has played in dramatically reshaping all areas of life. In recent years, we have seen an exponential increase in the pace at which we see societal change, as well as an increase in the capacity of innovation. Economists believe that this continual emergence of information and communication technologies will have a dramatic impact on employment, which will see both growing demand for new skills and occupations, as well as job losses in a number of vulnerable industries (Angus, C 2015).
One economists who shares these views is Andrew McAfee (2013), who offers an insightful TED talk on what he believes future jobs will look life. His talk provides an extensive understanding on this shift into what he coins ‘The New Machine Age’. As mentioned by Andrew, the list of emerging technologies is constantly growing, with robots, VR, smartphones, 3D printing and online communications being a few recently trending. These technologies are broad-based in their scope and significant in their ability to transforming existing businesses and personal lives (West, D.M 2015).
In my initial stages of research I found a research report on NSW future workforce trends. Within the paper, Chris Angus (2015) highlights five overarching technological developments in the field of information and communications technology that are predicted to have the most profound impact on the Australian workforce. These being:
- Cloud services
- The Internet of Things
- Big Data
- Machine learning and robots
- Immersive communications
It is made evident that the five points above will provide numerous benefits and opportunities for businesses sectors across Australia. These opportunities include:
- Increased production + efficiency (particularly through automation)
Innovation of new enterprises
- Increased entrepreneurship
- Greater workplace flexibility
- Lower barriers for start up businesses
- Reduced costs
A two prominent positive of these emerging technologies to industries, is the creation of thousands of “digital jobs” directly, for people involved in ‘Information and Communication Technology’ (ICT) production and for advanced users, who use specific software and tools as a main element of their work (World Bank Group, 2015). Another is the emergence of digital tools allowing for more people to connect to work from home. All these benefits can already be seen in the Australian workforce.
While increasing computational power and rapidly falling prices are encouraging greater use of computers, the capacity of machines to replicate aspects of human thought is set to most radically reshape the labour market. These advances mean that activities previously considered forever outside the scope of programming are increasingly being undertaken by computers (Gratton, L et. al 2015). In relation to The Australian workforce, we will see two impacts of increased technological dependency:
- Direct substitute of AUS labour, with a high probability that as much as 40 per cent of the jobs in Australia could be replaced by computers within a decade or two
- Disrupt the way work is conducted, expanding competition and reducing the costs to consumers but also reducing the income of workers.
There is a strong need for the Australian government to consider, and implement specific actions to expand the opportunities that technologies bring, in particular for the workforce. I can identify four sets of policies and programs that would assist in the transition of technologically driven industries (World Bank Group, 2015).
- The first one is the need to re-examine the regulatory frameworks governing education; to ensure students and future workers develop the required skillsets to prosper in this digital age. School curriculum’s need to be adjusted to guarantee all stages of the education process have some attention on instilling digital competencies rather than a pure focus on retention of specific knowledge.
- The next strategy is the creation of more digital jobs. The Australian government should implement enabling policies and regulatory environments for entrepreneurship and innovation, that assist start-ups flourish. Creation of more jobs can also be done through connecting educators with employers to reduce the lag in educational systems’ and skills development programs
- The third strategy is the improved access to digital tools across the country. The expansion and affordability of reliable Internet access is crucial to this strategy, allowing for a connection of digital tools as well as the accompanying work opportunities.
- The last strategy is to assist workers with the transition. So workers, in particular labour industries, will not be able to adapt to technological change quickly. Therefore the creation of targeted assistance programs should be considered, in which the government works closely with businesses and training organisations to help such workers with specific assistance.
For my research report I plan to critically analyse the potential effects of continual technological development and dependency, and whether it will have any profound impacts, both positively and negatively, on future Australian employment. I believe that a focus on the Australian job climate will provide the report with more direction and relevance to the later section of the report in which I look to discuss strategy implementation. This section of the report I want to offer potential researched strategies that can be implemented by the Australian government as a means of capitalising on emerging technologies whilst also ensuring high employment rates across the country. Within strategy implementation, I will have a strong focus on the reshaping of education systems and curriculums.
McAfee, A 2013, ‘What Will Future Jobs Look Like’, TED, YouTube,
Angus, C 2015, ‘Future workforce trends in NSW: Emerging technologies and their potential impact’, NSW Parliament Research Service, December Report,
West, D.M 2015, ‘What happens if robots take the jobs? The impact of emerging technologies on employment and public policy’, Brookings Centre for Technology Innovation, October,
< https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/robotwork.pdf >
World Bank Group 2015, ‘The Effects of Technology on Employment and Implications for Public Employment Services’, Turkey, May,
Gratton, L et. al 2015, ‘Australia’s Future Workforce’, CEDA, June Report,