Once it was the expected thing to study, find a job and stay with an organisation until retirement. Now people entering the workforce face a very different experience.
Professor Ron Johnston is the Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Innovation. His work looks at how people can prepare for change resulting from emerging technologies.
“A person’s career will become a process of continual reinvention – reinventing yourself, reinventing your role and reinventing your areas of interest,” he says.
For example, as developing technologies enable computerisation of routine tasks such as reading documents and assessing information, various professions will be affected. In areas such as law, computers will be able to make preliminary recommendations.
“The advice I give to my first-year engineering students is that if you’ve done something exactly the same way three times, then you can be replaced by a robot,” Johnston says. “So when it comes around to the third time, don’t do it the same way; think about how you can innovate and try to do it differently and better.”
Globalisation has also been a major factor in the changing career landscape. People face greater competition from overseas as companies move work offshore and new technology makes the world a smaller place.
Theodora Chan (BA Media&Comm ’10 BA (Hons) ’12), is co-founder of Hey Sippy, a content marketing and production company that hires freelancers in various countries. Working with people overseas not only enables her company to give its clients fast service, it means both company and clients can work with the best writers, designers, photographers and videographers from around the world.
“If a client requests a blog post at 5.30pm for the following morning, I can have someone in the United Kingdom work on it during their daytime and have the content to the client by 9am Australian time,” Chan says.
These changes don’t always mean jobs will be lost. Other jobs are often created or the nature of existing jobs changes. Johnston gives the example of a car robotics centre in Adelaide that avoided closing down by becoming a medical device operation through repurposing existing equipment and using employees’ skills differently.