Students aren’t being trained in the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.
Students aren’t being trained in the skills they need for the jobs of tomorrow.

Are these the bizarre jobs of the future?

HOW would you like a career as a "wholeness mentor", an "excess capacity broker" or an "end-of-life coach"?

The jobs of the future may not exist yet, but TAFEs and universities have to start training workers in the skills they will need for them right now, an innovation expert has warned.

Nils Vesk, an "innovation architect" who has worked with companies including Microsoft, IBM, CommBank and Nestle, said the ageing population and rapidly changing technology are set to open up a host of new opportunities, but that current students were not being adequately prepared.

"Whatever people might have learnt at university or TAFE, the research shows your first year of information is almost irrelevant by the time you finish your degree," he said, adding that by 2020 more than one-third of the desired skill sets for most occupations would be comprised of skills not yet considered crucial to jobs today.

"[The institutions are] going to have to know what the future jobs are and what they're going to have to start thinking about training for, because at the moment these jobs don't exist."

It comes after a report by professional services firm EY earlier this month warned that nearly half of existing university degrees could be obsolete within a decade leaving graduates with "more debt and poor job prospects" if Australia's university system is not drastically overhauled.

In 2016, a report from the Committee for Economic Development predicted that 40 per cent of Australian jobs that exist today have a "moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years".

Speaking to a group of TAFE executives recently, Mr Vesk highlighted a number of possible future jobs relating to the elderly population, changing technology and emerging economic trends.

Mr Vesk said rather than training for specific roles, training in the future would focus on transferable skills such as interpersonal and social skills, complex problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and IT literacy.

"The jobs are definitely going to be changing, but a lot of it's going to be skills," he said. "Today a company might need a customer experience manager, but in two years it might be a 'social media mobilisation role', how do we mobilise our customers to do something."

Mr Vesk said from 2020, the country would see an explosion in jobs in data analytics and visualisation, installation, retrofitting, repair and maintenance of smart meters and renewable energy technologies, transportation and logistics, and industrial design.

He also predicted an increase in education and healthcare roles, particularly nurses, as well as specialised sales representatives, database and network professionals, engineering roles in materials, biochemicals, nanotech and robotics, information security analysts and regulatory and government relations specialists.

Mr Vesk said some of the "big sociocultural trends" included a global population that was expected to double in size by 2050, increasing the need for specialised aged care as life expectancy increases, and the rise of "customisation".

"Customisation is a really big thing," he said. "There are so many people in the world, even though they've got social media, they want individualisation. So you might have a customisation manager - whatever the [industry], how do I customise that for individuals?"

 

Innovation architect Nils Vesk.
Innovation architect Nils Vesk.

Mr Vesk said other trends would include the growing importance of food security, biosecurity, robotics and brain-machine interfaces, as well as the need for a new tier of mental health services.

"Some forecasts are that one in two people are going to suffer from mental health issues," he said. "Not everyone has the time to do a four-year degree to become a psychologist, so [there will be] para-psychologists and para-counselling."

Here's some of what we can look forward to, according to Mr Vesk.

MEDICAL MENTOR

"It's not like a doctor," he said. "Imagine you've just been to a doctor. 'Here's what they said, here's your advice, but here's what you've got to do to follow up on that.' It's almost like a nurse, but nurses don't generally work in that way.

"Nowadays, you can get your whole genotype mapped out. They can say, 'OK, there's a potential issue here around this gene which relates to kidney illness, what could I be doing about that?' It's almost about joining all the dots, because there's so much information out there.

"Biohacking, for example, is where people are going, 'I've got an illness but the medical profession is too slow in solving it, I'm going to team up with others with the same illness to forge our own path.'

"[The medical mentor] might say, 'Here's a surgeon or an expert in Munich, here's a medication the US Food and Drug Administration has approved that isn't available in Australia.'"

END-OF-LIFE COACH

"This is a big one," Mr Vesk said. "Already life expectancy in some countries is ticking over to 86, and a lot of forecasts in the not-to-distant future say one in three people could live to over 100. How are we going to support that?

"It has massive implications not only in terms of their health, but also their finances. It's not so much, 'You're going to die now', like palliative care. It's about saying, 'OK, you've reached 80', and looking at how we're going to get you through the next 30 years not only physically but maintain your mobility, mental faculties and independence.

"It's also about, how can we financially fund all this? It's going to cost you money, and I'm not confident the Australian government is going to have the pension as we know it around in 20 years. Twenty per cent more people are going to be on the pension, more than ever before - where is that money going to come from?"

WHOLENESS MENTOR

"There are some emerging trends that have been going on, people feeling disenchanted with the world, and mental illness is one indicator of that," he said.

"More and more people are living alone and working from home, so what that means is we've got the 'Nigel no friends' out there who might be freelancing online, but having no real communication or interaction with people in the community.

"Yes, they've got social networks, but are feeling a little disconnected from society. [The wholeness mentor] would help people by saying, 'You're working, that's great, but do you have a partner? Do you have a family? Hobbies? How do you look after yourself physically?'

"In the past [life coaches] have been usually more around helping you get more money in your job, this is more around, it's not all about the work."

HUMAN-TECH INTEGRATION SPECIALIST

"If you were to look at the average person, the number of apps they have, the smart devices and the type of software they use, they're probably using about 5-10 per cent of the capacity they have [to get the most out of them]," Mr Vesk said.

"The human-technology integration specialist is almost like a productivity optimisation expert. They would be saying, 'What's your daily work routine?'

"Rather than having 50 of those apps on your phone and these computer programs, this and that, we can consolidate that down to three core, critical programs and apps to enable you to work more quickly without diverting all your energy.

"Similar to if you had a financial adviser, 'What, you've got 15 bank accounts? That's crazy.' They will say, 'Let me help you find the two or three apps and one or two programs that will really enable you to get what you want done.'"

EXCESS CAPACITY BROKER

"It might sound a hard and a little crude," he said. "But you might have 10 people who have finished working on a project, they're on salary and not doing anything. In an ideal world they would work on the next project, but in the real world they might have one or two weeks' down time.

"[The excess capacity broker] would say, 'I've got all these smart people, can I utilise them as a resource and outsource their brain power to another division or organisation for four or five weeks.'

"Another example is if you've got a fleet of 200 cars, but you notice in the period between December 20 and January 12 only five of those are being used because the company closes down. Couldn't we actually sublease them as short-term rentals?

"Or if contract staff have finished and we've got half a floor of space, how do we utilise that? It's taking a leaf out of the book from the sharing economy with Uber and Airbnb, and it's going to be happening more in the business world."

 

 

frank.chung@news.com.au



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