Prepare yourself for the evolution of work 

A new study by identifies the core work capabilities that students and employees should be learning now to robot-proof their careers.

Media Release: 19 October 2020

A recent research study by Australian data science firm Faethm has identified 32 future-of-work capabilities, including 13 digital and data literacies that can be targeted by employees, businesses and governments in L&D programs.

Faethm’s Chief Data Scientist, Dr Richard George, said: “The rapid growth of emerging technology is quickly changing the nature of work. As firms automate and augment work-tasks, employees need to continually upskill to remain relevant and stay employed. Using Faethm’s machine learning IP, we simulated the impact of emerging technology on work and identified the capabilities that will be important and necessary for all employees in the future.”

Despite what the media may tell you, the future of work is not the end of jobs, it is a rapid at-scale transition to new types of work. However, the focus by employers and educators on training technical or disciple-related skills alone is inadequate as they change too fast and their shelf-life too short. The workforce needs to focus on enduring core capabilities that will emphasise those typically human attributes that no robot can replicate with any value. 

In collaboration with workforce specialist Dr Marcus Bowles, Director of The Institute for Working Futures and Honorary Professor at Macquarie University, the team applied machine learning to predict the future of work, where many routine tasks are performed by robots. The remaining tasks and skills were grouped into ‘robot-proof’ work capabilities.

There are 32 future capabilities that all employees will need in the future of work. Along with those you would expect to see, such as Creativity, Critical Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence, capabilities of mention include:

  • Personal Learning and Mastery: having accountability for the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience or being taught, while displaying a concentrated effort to gain comprehensive knowledge or skill in that particular subject or activity.
  • Value Orientation: taking responsibility for outcomes and results of one’s own and other’s work that contribute to creating business value.
  • Agility: generating or using different sets of rules or information sources; shifting between two or more activities; being comfortable to let go of sunk-costs or the normal ways of doing things and pursue new directions.

In addition, digital and data literacies were identified, such as digital collaboration and communication, as well as the ability to interpret outputs of predictive models. 

The study compared the current Australian workforce to the future workforce to identify industries with the biggest gaps to future capability. The industry identified to have the lowest current-state capability compared with the national average was Agriculture: the majority of employees in the Agriculture industry are typically in occupations that require a low ability-level. In contrast, Professional Service workers are highly skilled and score high across all capabilities compared with the national average. However, the future impact of technology to their work will require further upskilling in Digital and Data Literacies.

Women are better positioned for the future

On average, women are stronger in future capabilities than men. The type of occupations that Australian women tend to work in, such as Healthcare and Education, equip them with the capabilities they will need to thrive in the future of work. However, all Australians need to focus on improving their robot-proof work capabilities.

Future implications

Emerging technology has the potential to improve economic output and boost the wealth of individuals and nations, but only if governments, educators and employers take action to ensure there is an equitable distribution of this prosperity. Investing in the right capabilities now will help prevent prolonged unemployment for many as technology begins to automate more and more occupations.

“This study has important implications for defining human and technical capabilities and preparing graduates for current and future work” said Dr Marcus Bowles is the world's data source to navigate the Evolution of work through a SaaS AI platform that enables companies and governments to create value from the impact of emerging technologies.   Faethm was founded in Sydney in April 2016, launched its first product in October 2017, and currently serves over 100 customers in 21 industries and 25 countries around the world.

Leading the Evolution of work globally, Faethm is the 16th company globally, the 1st in Australia and the 2nd in Asia to be invited to join the World Economic Forum's Centre for the 4th Industrial Revolution. Faethm has won national, state and local government clients, including the Australian Dept Foreign Affairs & Trade, the Luxembourg government (a pilot for EU), the Victorian State Government City, NSW State Govt and Brisbane City Council. Faethm was also invited to brief the Australian Senate Select Committee on AI and Future of Work.

For further information please contact Tracy Ryan, Head of Marketing:

The research is published in the book titled, Integration and Application of Business Graduate and Business Leader Competency-Models. IGI Global . 

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