There’s a common assumption that the successful workers of the next century will need to become increasingly skilled in the digital arts in order to survive. This is based on the belief that many traditional jobs will be overtaken by automation.
So it may pay to ask – assuming the automation evolution will, in fact, change numerous traditional roles, what jobs will remain? And more importantly, how should we prepare?
As a nation it’s something we need to think about, particularly the younger generation. While the steady jobs of today might still be here in 20 years, they are unlikely to look like they do now.
In the past there have been occupations that remained relatively stable, for example lawyers, doctors, and accountants. If you went to university, got one of these degrees, and entered that particular workforce, it was assumed that you’d be set for life.
However, this is no longer the case.
The times have changed
Take an accountant. So much accounting is done via cloud-based software now, and as competition increases and more tasks are automated, the tasks that took up most of an accountant’s time 10 years ago are quickly disappearing.
In order to create value, those accountants are going to have to provide a wider, more holistic service. Number crunching can be automated, but strategy, deeper insights and specialised advice? That’s a human function that will always be necessary.
Imagine that instead of hiring an accountant to just run your books, you hired that accountant to provide you with strategy and insight based on all of your business data?
For these services to add value, that accountant will need to possess a large number of skills that complement each other, including the ability to handle (and interpret) a wide range of data.
So, the accountants will still be here. But they’ll be completely different from the types of accountants you may be used to – and the same will likely go for a large number of other professions.
As an example, doctors now interact with a huge amount of technology to help with their day-to-day activities, deliver results to their patients, and even identify illnesses in the first place.
Start-ups have not been left behind
Start-ups are also at the heart of this movement. Businesses are creating new types of jobs that have never existed before, as they combine different professions. And the ability to access data is driving this – which is exactly why governments should continue to double down on efforts to make more data sets public.
Take the fintech space – combining the financial services industry and technology has never before been possible. This new industry is creating jobs that have never before existed, taking tech-savvy millennials who are comfortable coding and creating digital properties, and applying these skills to financial services. This is helping people borrow money or lend it in new and improved ways.
Now, people have access to same day loans but it was only by combining tech with finance that we could have access to that innovation. As a result, the role of the traditional banker is changing for the better.
A banker or finance professional may no longer be sitting behind a desk, shuffling paperwork – that new banker is a young, twenty-something who knows how to code and work with data to create personalised products for their customers.
Who knows what types of jobs those employees will go on to create in the next 20 to 30 years? It’s impossible to predict, but we know for sure they’ll be completely different from the jobs we see today.
We shouldn’t just focus on the jobs disappearing because of automation. Instead, we should be encouraging young Australians to seek opportunities to combine existing roles and skills into new opportunities.
Not only will this encourage millennials to develop critical skills for the new century – it will make Australia a better place.
Clayton Howes is the CEO of digital consumer finance firm MoneyMe. He’s an expert in personal finance as well as small business and start-ups.