New FACTBase Bulletin examines Has the Future of Work arrived?

The adoption and fusion of new technologies associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing the face of work across Australia with almost every industry impacted in some way, according to the latest FACTBase Bulletin released by the Committee for Perth.

Has the Future of Work Arrived? is the first piece of research to be delivered under the Committee’s 2020-2021 major project the Future of Work: equipping WA and its people for the changing world of work.

Committee for Perth CEO Marion Fulker said the aim of the project was to build a comprehensive understanding of how technology and automation, combined with relevant global and workforce megatrends, were impacting jobs, skill requirements and industry needs in Western Australia.

“From the Internet of Things to robotics, automation, nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence, the speed of change is generating predictions that technology will replace jobs faster than new jobs can be created,” Mrs Fulker said.

“These concerns have been exacerbated by the current coronavirus pandemic, which according to international research, has the potential to accelerate future of work changes.

“We have seen with our own eyes how quickly technology can be adapted when it needs to be – with millions of Australians working from home and everything from contact-less drone delivery to virtual summits to cater for our expanded life online.

“While there is consensus that the types of skills required by industries of the future will change, there is little agreement concerning the number of job losses that could occur, or the quantity of new jobs created by automation.”

The FACTBase Bulletin found the industries most prone to automation were manufacturing; transport; sales and related fields; construction; administrative services; accommodation and food services; agriculture; and mining and resources.

Those least prone to automation include education; health; information and communications technology (ICT); computer science; business management and financial services; professional and scientific services; and arts and recreation services.

“Technological changes may not lead to mass job losses, but they are likely to change the types of industries people work in, the nature of jobs people perform and skills needed to perform them,” Mrs Fulker said.

“While there is agreement that demand for people to conduct routine and manual tasks will continue to decline, researchers predict that human ‘cognitive’ and interpersonal skills will become increasingly hard to find in countries across the globe.

“The bulletin also found that while Australia’s economy was experiencing a structural shift from a goods-producing economy towards a services-oriented economy, the change has not been felt as strongly in WA due to its unique specialisation in mining.”

Over the course of the project community research will be undertaken along with further analysis of the job landscape and industry development to ascertain what it all means for the workers of Perth and the state of Western Australia.