The complexity of the fast changing world of work

The annual Careers Breakfast provided an opportunity last Friday for our Years 11 and 12 students to gather information and the experiences of others to help shape their own career and study decisions. Paul Clithero, well known author and financial analyst, says that “for many people, a job is more than an income; it’s an important part of who we are”. Choosing a career is not an end-product itself but rather a focus on a life-journey of self-examination, calculated risk taking and resilience training. In reality, we spend a lifetime learning to appreciate who we are and applying that knowledge to our private and work lives, and as we discover new parts of ourselves, our pathway shifts and a new journey begins. The challenge for school graduates today is the complexity of the fast changing world of work.

In a news article posted in the Sydney Morning Herald on the August 5, 2017, The World Economic Forum predicts “a perfect storm of business model change in all industries”. Welcome to the Exponential Age, where software and digital technologies will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. As an example, Uber is just a software tool, a company that does not own any cars yet is now the largest taxi company in the world. Similarly, Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although it does not own any properties.

Other areas on the verge of significant change include the car industry with the emergence of self-driving cars; the prediction is that people will actually no longer own cars as transport is a mere phone call away with no parking required at the destination. The days of your daughter requiring 120 hours of driving to achieve her driver’s licence will be a thing of the past! Autonomous driving will also significantly reduce the frequency of car accidents with the subsequent flow on effects to the car insurance industry expected to all but disappear. In the health sector, the Tricorder X, an automatic non-invasive health diagnostics system that works by taking a scan of your retina, a sample of your blood and breath to analyse 54 biomarkers that will identify one of many diseases. And within a ten year timeframe, the price of 3D Printers reduced from $18,000 to $400. In this time, all major shoe companies started 3D Printing shoes, and in the near future, you will be able to 3D scan your feet and print the perfect shoe at home. (Gollub, 2016)

As revealed by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) 40% of Australia’s workforce will be replaced by automation within the next 10-20 years. With three quarters of the fastest growing industries requiring STEM skills, it is considered essential that Australian students are inspired to pursue STEM focused careers.

Andrew Norton, from the Grattan Institute, suggests universities are also doing more than ever to assist graduates with developing employability skills such as communication, team work and problem solving. Norton also nominates health, IT and engineering as strong career paths. Professor Brett Ninness, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment at the University of Newcastle supported this belief: “the labour market data indicates two areas of strongest job growth are health care and engineering”. The factors driving the growing needs for engineers with specialised skills for medical settings include our ageing population and new technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence driving change in business models. And whilst many jobs will disappear, there will also be new jobs created.

Conversations about study and occupations are part of the process of building career knowledge and St Catherine’s girls are encouraged to make well-informed decisions and be open-minded with the outcome. Getting your university degree right at first attempt may be appropriate and relevant for some but making good decisions and remaining open to possibilities is appropriate and relevant for all. ‘Trying on’ study and experimenting with occupations are part of the process of building knowledge and career understanding. The conversations held last Friday will be among the many in their career journey.

In the SMH article linked below, the following courses were highlighted by a range of universities in answer to the question: Where are the careers of tomorrow”

Bachelor of Medical Engineering (Honours), University of Newcastle, ATAR 80

“Medical computing – think bioinformatics, cloud storage of medical records, virtual reality in allied health. Medical devices – implants, artificial organs and nanosystems. Signal and image – processing, scanning and imaging technologies. Biomechanics — medical robotics and prosthetics.”

Electrical Engineering, Macquarie University, ATAR 80

“Global renewable energy employment increased by five per cent in 2015 to 8.1 million, reports the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Solar PV was the largest renewable energy employer, with 2.8 million jobs worldwide, an 11 per cent increase on 2014. Macquarie University says its electrical engineering students will be equipped to meet global demand.”

Combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies, University of Sydney, ATAR 80-98, depending on degree 

“Our new curriculum, of which the combined Bachelor of Advanced studies is a major feature, is designed to prepare students, not just for their first job out of university, but for jobs long into the future that haven’t been invented yet,” says University of Sydney Professor Pip Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education).

Computer Science, University of NSW, ATAR 92+

“UNSW Professor Toby Walsh says artificial intelligence (AI) is a growth area, with industry pleading for qualified staff. “We get employers coming to us saying they could hire all of our grad class and that’s just one company,” Walsh says. “There’s a lot of concern that automation is going to take away jobs. But one of the jobs of the future is inventing that future. The Australian Computer Society estimates there will be 100,000 extra jobs in computing by 2020.”

Bachelor of Cyber Security and Behaviour, Western Sydney University, ATAR 79

“The Bachelor of Cyber Security and Behaviour enhances employability by developing technical skills alongside knowledge of the human factor in psychology, criminology and the social sciences for addressing cyber security and promoting internet safety,” says Professor Kevin Dunn, Western Sydney University Dean of Social Sciences and Psychology. Cheap viagra buy online from trusted pharmacies.

Bachelor of Laws major, Legal Futures and Technology, University of Technology, Sydney, ATAR 97.05

“The legal profession is undergoing profound change. Increasingly, technology is at the heart of a lawyer’s work, says Professor Lesley Hitchens, Dean, UTS Faculty of Law.”

Global Opportunity Leadership Engagement & Development Program, University of Wollongong, ATAR 95+

“Inspire and prepare tomorrow’s international business leaders” is the thinking behind the University of Wollongong’s new Global Opportunity Leadership Engagement and Development Program (GOLEaD), starting in 2018. UoW says the undergraduate course is the first of its kind in Australia and students will study in Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Wollongong, with sponsorship for travel and accommodation costs. “To prepare law graduates who are work-ready for a future driven by technology, innovation and disruption, UTS is introducing a new Bachelor of Laws major, Legal Futures and Technology, which will launch in 2018.

Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary), Australian Catholic University, ATAR 74.50-77.75

“By 2022, school student numbers are anticipated to swell by up to 26 per cent nationally. More students requires more and smarter teachers.”

I thank the following St Catherine’s parents and alumnae for attending the Careers Breakfast on Friday morning:

Hannah BickertonOld Girl (’09)
Allie VeallOld Girl (’13)
Lucy NettlefoldOld Girl (’09)
Sally HartmanisOld Girl (’10)
Olivia ShackellOld Girl (’09)
Anna CameronOld Girl (’12)
Emily HamiltonOld Girl (’09)
Hilary GroverOld Girl (’10)
Torie Hamilton-WilsonOld Girl (’10)
Sophia GeorgeffOld Girl (‘08)
Susannah GuthrieOld Girl (’09)
Victoria LaspasOld Girl (’88)
Charlotte KeatingOld Girl (’99)

Joe Powell

Arthur Galanopoulos

Jim Shergold

Mrs Michelle Carroll




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