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How to prepare for the future of work

14 July 2017
Design a study plan that suits your tastes, interests and goals

Our undergraduate curriculum provides the flexibility and choice that will set you up for a career you haven’t even thought of, yet.

As we all know, not so long ago, the world was a very different place.

Take something as simple as watching a TV show or movie.

Just to find out what was on you would have to buy the newspaper and thumb through the meagre listings of the five channels that made up the local TV guide.

You’d also have to make sure you were home to watch it, or find a blank VHS tape to record it. Or you could trawl through the shelves of your local video store (and then pay a late fee after forgetting to return it on time).

These days – à la Netflix, YouTube, playback TV, you name it – things are very different. You can create your own personal viewing guide that suits your own tastes and interests. Watch the latest movie. Catch a whole series of your favourite show. Taste an episode or two of another. Choice and flexibility is what it’s all about.

The future of work will be different

Today the way we work is different too. The decline of the nine-to-five office job has been well documented. ‘Bundy’ clocks and 50-year-service gold watches have been replaced by careers that not only traverse the globe, but a menagerie of areas and expertise.

The World Economic Forum estimates that young people will change careers at least seven times in their lives, and 35 percent of the skills required today will be different in five years.

The Committee for Economic Development of Australia estimates that improvements in computer power and technology – think robotics, big data and the internet – will have a profound impact on future employment, with almost 5 million current jobs in Australia becoming obsolete by 2030.

That doesn’t mean those jobs won’t be replaced. But it does mean the jobs and careers of the future will be very different from today.

It also means universities need to respond in kind: including the way we teach and the way we learn, says University of Sydney Deputy-Vice-Chancellor (Education) Pip Pattison.

“The world is changing, and the way in which people work together is changing, so university education needs to change as well,” Professor Pattison said. “Our undergraduate curriculum will provide students with a broader range of skills to take advantage of a world full of new possibilities.”

That means offering more choice and flexibility when it comes to study options. Something like your own personally designed viewing guide. Choose your primary field of study, but also try other disciplines that suit your own tastes, interests and goals.

Choose from a shared pool of majors and minors

"It’s designed to give every student the capabilities and agility they will need to thrive in the future world, by providing deep expertise in a chosen primary field of study, but also access to multiple forms of cross-disciplinary learning by introducing a shared pool of more than 100 majors and minors," Professor Pattison said.

This provides the opportunity to explore a wide range of study areas within a range of degrees, including:

  • Arts and Social Sciences
  • Commerce
  • Computing
  • Economics
  • Science
  • Visual Arts.

The new combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies is a good example. The four-year combined degree allows you to focus on a primary area of study, while combining studies from a range of disciplines.

It also lets you complete a second major, and build on your expertise with advanced coursework and project work.

The new four-year Bachelor of Advanced Computing offers the flexibility to combine computing with another passion.

By choosing a second major, Bachelor of Advanced Computing students can add skills in disciplines from as diverse as music and languages to finance, food science and design.

You might want to combine software development with music and revolutionise sound production; or specialise in computational data science and genetics and genomics, and help fight antibiotic-resistant viruses.

Sydney alum and Senior Data Scientist at online design group Canva Tiny Pang (BIT(Hons) ’15 BSc ’15) said areas such as data science were being applied to more problems across many industries.

"Having a specialisation in other fields and combining it with programming and data science will produce innovative businesses and projects we couldn't imagine or comprehend today," Ms Pang said.

More opportunities for cultural and global exchange 

The new curriculum also provides more opportunities for students to take part in workplace initiatives and community, industry and research projects, as well as study internationally and build skills to work effectively in intercultural settings. We aim to increase the number of students undertaking some of their study abroad to at least 50 percent.

Bachelor of Arts student Cameron Hunter, who is majoring in Chinese Studies and Government and International Relations, was given the opportunity to go on exchange to Copenhagen and then again to Beijing as a Westpac Bicentennial Foundation Asian Exchange Scholar.

“The exchange experience was an amazing opportunity to network, gain work experience and visit incredible places virtually inaccessible to people without Chinese language skills,” Mr Hunter said.

Creating more opportunities for young entrepreneurs

Got a brilliant business idea? You don’t have to wait until you graduate to put your ideas into action because we've got a number of programs that develop entrepreneurial skills, nurture innovative ideas and are backed by a wealth of expertise.

Established in 2016, the Sydney Innovation Hub provides a facility for undergraduate and postgraduate students from all faculties to co-create and innovate with other students, academics, alumni, industry and community. The Hub provides access to custom-designed space for technology-enabled collaboration, experts in residence, mentoring and seed funding. 

Sydney Genesis is one of our largest cross-faculty start-up programs. Since 2008, Genesis has helped more than 900 entrepreneurs bring their business ideas to life. 

Developed by the University of Sydney Union in partnership with the Unviersity of Sydney, INCUBATE has grown to become a leading startup accelerator program in Australia, launching more than 60 startups at Sydney since it was established in 2012.

Operating out of the School of Information Technologies, the Sydney Accelerator Network provides a platform for students, academics and industry practitioners to collaborate and pursue opportunities for creating new products and services.

We also operate a number of other programs for budding entrepreneurs, including:

Find out more about the Sydney Undergraduate Experience and how you can design your study plan for a job of the future.