FROM THE DESK OF CHDC’S REGIONAL SKILLS DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR

Many thanks to those who’ve connected with me to discover more about my role and how it can influence your workforce. I have had several discussions on how you can access trained staff and what training is available for the future needs. At this stage, I am gathering evidence and feedback from organisations on current requirements and possible needed skills for the future. The future skills are an interesting conversation as predicting where the sectors progress is the unknown.

Sometimes reflecting backwards does reveal future trends. If we consider the First Industrial Revolution, water and steam power were used to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third – the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.*

So, considering we are entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the need for changing/updating skills will influence all we currently know and provide some ideas for the future skills. Much has been written about the significant technological, economic, demographic and social changes, defined as ‘megatrends’ by the CSIRO**, substantially changing the way we work. But, changes in the labour market are not new, as mentioned above.

A little over 100 years ago, agriculture was Australia’s largest employer, before the mechanisation of manufacturing and mass production took over. More recently, the advent of computers and the internet has changed the way work is done. The declining costs of computers, coupled with their increasing capabilities and power, meant that information processing tasks became cheaper and employers turned to educated office workers in search of greater productivity.

Indeed, this phenomenon has resulted in a large shift in the skill composition of the Australian labour market, with the share of high-skill jobs increasing significantly, middle-skill jobs decreasing by almost as much, and the share of low-skilled jobs decreasing slightly. This is perhaps best highlighted by secretaries, who experienced the greatest decline of any other mid-level occupation (skill level 3) between 2006 and 2011, losing 30,234 positions, or nearly a third of the entire workforce because of computerisation and the redistribution of duties to other staff.

The difference now, however, is that the combination of the megatrends occurring simultaneously are amplifying one another, resulting in faster, bigger and exponential shifts, vastly different from those previously experienced. Innovations will support and drive other innovations. These impending changes offer great promise for both future prosperity and job creation, as well as a major challenge for people, organisations, societies and governments as they plan for and negotiate fundamental changes in the way we work and live.***

This project looks to assist small to medium enterprises to review the current skills of their workforce. As their business adapts to the changes, businesses will need to identify the changing skills for their existing and future workforce. This project will identify the skills and training that is required and possible organisations who can deliver this needed training.

* Klaus Schwab Founder and Executive Chairman The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond, World Economic Forum 14 January 2016

** Hajkowicz, S, Reeson, A et al. 2016, Tomorrow’s digitally enabled workforce: megatrends and scenarios for jobs and employment in Australia over the coming twenty years, CSIRO, Brisbane, viewed September 2018

*** Anna Payton, NCVER, Skilling for tomorrow 26th National VET Research Conference ‘No Frills’, viewed September 2018

For more information, contact Brad Stallard E: bstallard@chdc.com.au or T: (07) 4982 4386 or M: 0488 780 181.

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