Two in three young Australians are studying for roles that may not exist in 15 years due to automation. Here’s how to stay one step ahead of the robots.

Short of packing it all in and running off to join the Amish, there’s no getting away from it: automation is a fact of life, and changes in the workplace due to technology are affecting workers everywhere.

Over the past 25 years, around 100,000 machinery operator, 400,000 labouring and 250,000 technical and trades jobs have disappeared, to be replaced by more than 400,000 new jobs in community and personal services.1

The changes apply equally to what used to be called ‘white collar’ jobs, with around 500,000 secretaries and administrators being displaced by computers or automation.

We don’t know how technology will continue to impact the workforce of the future, but it’s been estimated two in three young Australians are currently studying for roles that may not exist in 15 years.

The way jobs are changing

The workplace of the future will be defined by having technology perform tasks that are routine, mundane or requiring detailed analysis, says TwoPointZero CEO Steve Shepherd.

For example, lawyers used to rely on juniors to pore over old case files during discovery, but now technology can quickly and accurately scour the records and case files for them.

Even in the medical field things are changing. Doctors are harnessing the power of technology and algorithms to make faster and more accurate diagnoses.

Automation is affecting the roles of editors, chemical engineers, economists and even dentists.

So, how do you ensure there will always be a role for you?

Future-proofing your career

As technology evolves, new and exciting opportunities are arising, but we need to be able to adapt to the changes.

Figuring out what you are passionate about, and building your profession around this, will help ensure you are both happy and effective in your job – but you still need to have transferrable skills to be able to roll with the punches.

For example, you move from a job writing press releases to a position in a digital agency. While communication skills remain the core of what you do, you are able to adapt as jobs change and roles evolve.

Similarly, it’s important to focus on developing the skills of the future.

While a computer might be able to read and digest thousands of research articles in next to no time, it doesn’t have any bedside manner to speak of. Good emotional intelligence skills are essential for dealing with patients and their families in the medical field. Fancy equipment might improve a doctor or nurse’s ability to do their job, but it will never entirely replace them.

Technology skills, creativity and collaboration are also going to be highly sought after as we move further into the digital age.

It might sound challenging, but there are plenty of people and resources you can turn to for help and support. For example, people who have found success in your industry.

An experienced career coach will also be able to provide valuable insights into the current Australian job market and help you develop a strategy to achieve your goals.

Learn how developing a career plan could be your ticket to success.


  1. Future of work reportFYA