Australians as stranded assets is not an option
The technological revolution is speeding up. By 2030 the consequences of this disruption will make the world we live in and the jobs we perform almost unrecognisable.
Look beyond the driverless automobile and consider the impact of 1 billion working drones.
Preparation is required to skill, reskill and upskill Australians to meet the opportunities and challenges the revolution will deliver.
Time is of the essence. Individuals, businesses and governments need to proactively understand what is required to be employed in 2030. The future is knocking.
What we don’t want is to lose productive members of society because they inadvertently become “stranded” between the skills required for today and the skills required for the future.
In economic terms stranded assets are those that have become obsolete or non-performing.
Coal mines may be considered a stranded asset as the world phases out fossil fuels. Stranded people can’t be a term that we consider.
Education is not the whole answer but it is certainly an important component in helping Australians to future proof their employment.
Education is no longer only the dominion of the young. Instead it requires every generation to take personal responsibility to ensure they have the skills necessary to maintain employment. Governments, businesses and institutions must work together to provide those educational opportunities.
People’s lives are created by what they pay attention to and learning must become one of life’s fundamentals that they pay attention to: just like food and water.
In Australia, although there is a growing awareness that life-long education is important, it is one of those buzz words that roles easily off the tongue. For many busy employed Australians, however, their ongoing education is not a focus of their attention. If anything, education is focused on their children.
Like most situations in life, real understanding only occurs when people are personally affected. However, this attitude must change and it must change fast. Every generation must snap to attention, and invest in their own future.
The generation that currently is most acutely affected are people who have involuntarily lost their job between 45 and 54, particularly low skilled male workers.
Australia historically has been poor at transitioning workforces with big technology shifts.
Over last 25 years 1:10 unskilled men who lost their job never participated in the workforce again.
Today 1:4 unskilled men who lose their job do not participate in the labour market.
The lesson is to invest in workforce education, rather than waiting for people to become unemployed later in life, and then attempting to reskill them. Prevention is the far better option.
Technology provides many opportunities and learning is one of them. There are so many avenues to engage in the global online learning community with little cost. It is about creating the opportunities.
Education, however, needs to reach every corner of the globe, to ensure that no nation or group of people are stranded. According to The Global Partnership for Education:
In 2107 90% of young people in low income countries are unlikely to have any more education
than primary school
260 million children do not attend school.
If only wealthy people in Australia and wealthy countries have access to the education, it has the potential to create a cancer of inequality that will fuel global instability.
Already It is anticipated that by 2030, 800 million of the worlds 1.5 billion youth will be ill-equipped to work in the world that is being created.
The global and the Australian workforce must undergo a rapid transformation. An Australian workforce strategy that spans all generations is required. A vision is required of what industries Australia can create and capitalise on within a technological framework.
An education strategy would link to the vision. The focus would be on specific skill development that provides growth and employment opportunities.
Importantly, the strategy needs to be complemented with a public awareness campaign, highlighting the opportunities the technological revolution will provide and what individuals can do to participate. The clock is ticking.
It can’t just be left to individuals, businesses and institutions working alone. It must have oversight and participation of key stakeholders, particularly those who provide education and skill development across all generations.
Ideally a cabinet position focused on business, people and technology could help provide a united strategy and provide dedicated oversight. It would also reinforce the importance of Technology and People. It could be called the Minister for Workforce Transition.
It is encouraging that there is already growing awareness of the issues and productive conversations are in the public arena.
Australia as a nation has made wise decisions in the past. The future is the result of the wise decisions we make today.
What is required now is urgent collective and individual decisions to support a healthy and prosperous society. Australians becoming stranded assets is simply not an option.
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