Workforce and Productivity Summit

Workforce and Productivity Summit

Workforce and Productivity Summit

Workforce and Productivity Summit: There’s 944,500 reasons to embrace knowledge

Australia has enjoyed “massive job creation” in the past five years as we shift to a knowledge economy, but we can’t bank on the trend continuing, said Rod Jones, the chief executive of international education provider Navitas.

In a keynote speech to be presented at The Australian Financial Review‘s Workforce and Productivity Summit on Tuesday, Mr Jones argued “education is absolutely one of the world’s most critical priorities and is key to growing productivity,” as robots take over many existing jobs.

The Knowledge Economy

Mr Jones pointed to IBIS World data showing that 944,500 new jobs have been created in Australia over the past five years, with health and  professional services industries alone accounting for nearly 40 per cent of these new roles. The education industry created 103,000 new jobs – nearly as many as the mining industry (111,000 new jobs). Administrative support, hospitality, construction, government/defence and rental/real estate industries gained a total of 201,000 new jobs in that time.

However other industries have suffered major job losses over the past five years, with Australia’s manufacturing industry the biggest loser (-70,000 jobs).

Robots will Eat – And Change – Jobs

Jones told the summit in Melbourne that “the massive job creation of recent years will be more difficult as the ‘engine to engine’ economy advances. Work done today by individuals will be increasingly handled by applications that don’t need human intervention”.

Even health and white collar professional services workers face disruption and will be required to change the way they work, he says. There is evidence of machines already doing work in complex areas such as prescribing and administering drugs.

Traditional Degrees will Die

Mr Jones, who leads an education company with 120 campuses and colleges across 31 countries, argued that traditional three year degrees would be replaced because of the speed of technological change.

“I think traditional degrees may become a thing of the past, even within ten years … People will come in and out of education to upskill as new technologies and new ways of doing things start impacting on our lives,” he said.  “Employers are growing less concerned about credentials and more concerned about skills … Education will need to be a life long habit for the individual.”

Education that helped people adapt, problem-solve and innovate would help them thrive as engines took over many existing roles. This kind of education would also help people fill the future jobs that hadn’t yet been created, Mr Jones argued.

A recent report by Deloitte found a widening gap between employer expectations and graduate skills. Mr Jones called for greater collaboration between education entities, business and industry. While the idea of getting students learning in the workplace as they studied higher education is not new, “it is pretty clear not enough is being done in this space to meet demand”, he said.

Ref: Australian Financial Review

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