The Industrial Revolution in Europe and Britain in the late 1700’s to early 1800’s saw the transition to systematised, mechanised manufacturing production which significantly revolutionised the way of working.
By the 1950’s, typewriters and counting machines were more commonplace. Fast forward to the early 1980’s and computers had begun being used within the workplace. With this came the ability to analyse lines of data, write documents, create engaging presentations and invest in the development of intellectual capital. In essence, the knowledge economy was born.
The last 15 years has seen significant growth in high skilled jobs. The economic marker of the knowledge economy is intellectual capital, enabling workers to have greater flexibility and freedom to conduct their work from wherever they are. While the world of work has been transforming for some time, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the pace of this change and ushered in the largest transformation to work in a century. In this environment a key question for educators is how to effectively prepare students to flourish in this new world of work. The first step is to understand the new world of work and the demographic, social and technological trends that are driving these transformations.
Automation has long been a topic of consideration in the new world of work. For many this can elicit feelings of fear while for others a sense of opportunity. With technological advancement replacing some current jobs and creating new jobs for the future, it highlights the need for students to focus on transferable skills and lifelong learning. This requires a new mindset and an increased focus on retraining and skills.
Closely linked to the rise of automation is the focus on human skills. With automation changing the way we work; it is placing a greater requirement on people to focus on higher order skills and differentiate themselves from the tasks which machines can do. Looking to the future, it is increasingly the human characteristics of collaboration, creativity, critical thinking and curiosity that will set workers apart.
Aided by technological advancements and cloud computing, the remote workforce has been growing for some years. Through the events of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working became widely adopted. This transition decoupled work from the workplace and has provided employees with more agency over where and when they work than ever before.
Across organisations there is a shift to a people first culture, rather than a focus solely on the bottom line. Organisations are recognising that organisational culture is not an add on, but an essential to organisational health, longevity and success. Increasingly, organisations are also thinking about and reporting on their ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance). This is largely driven in part by the growing focus on sustainability and workplace wellbeing.
With Australians living longer and working later, the workforce is becoming increasingly generationally diverse. This requires intergenerational connections to be fostered. Equipping today’s students with an attitude that honours experience and desires to learn from those who have gone before them will put them in a position to flourish in the generationally diverse workplace of the future.
A job is not just seen as a form of employment that provides a sense of economic security but is increasingly linked with a worker’s sense of purpose. In the context of prosperity, a worker’s economic needs are met providing safety and security, allowing them to focus their attention on the higher order drivers of self actualisation and purpose.
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Article supplied with thanks to McCrindle.
About the Author: McCrindle are a team of researchers and communications specialists who discover insights, and tell the story of Australians – what we do, and who we are.