Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Jobs of the Future: The Known Unknown

By Karen Andrews

The digital revolution is having a profound impact on the workforce. Increasing skills in science, technology, engineering and maths is not optional.

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The Australian labour market will undergo a profound transition over the next 10–20 years. It’s hard to comprehend, but it’s been estimated that 5.1 million or 44% of current Australian jobs are at risk from digital disruption over the next 20 years.

If you find this difficult to believe, think about this. Today you are likely to consult with an app designer, a search engine optimisation specialist, a blogger and a social media adviser to promote a new product. These are all jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

In a world of unknowns, what we do know is that change is here to stay and will have a profound effect on the economy and the labour market. This is what scientists call the “known unknown”.

It’s an issue that has certainly been at the front of my mind as I’ve travelled around the country talking to people about science, technology, engineering and maths. Everyone that I have spoken to has certainly acknowledged that a lot more needs to be done to improve the skills of our nation in order to prepare ourselves for the future. But many don’t fully understand the reason why increasing STEM skills – science, technology, engineering and maths – is not optional.

There are some key indicators of the skills we will need. One of these is the ability to critically analyse the enormous amounts of data we are amassing. The Square Kilometre Array (...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.