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Reflecting on the future of work at the Victorian Government Youth Summit

By Alisa and Elektra (Interns at the Centre)

Centre interns, Elektra and Alisa with the Hon Gabrielle Williams, Minister for Youth

Brilliant, shining beams of sun gleamed directly onto us in the glorious early hours of the morning. It was Friday 5 April when we attended the third annual Victorian Government Youth Summit as part of our internship with the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare. The theme of the day, ‘The Future World of Work,’ was particularly relevant to us as university students anxious about our future job security. We were keen to discuss the rise of the gig economy and how globalisation and technology are perpetually transforming the world of work, and to join other young people in shaping our future.

In the first half of the day, we heard from an expert panel consisting of Dr. Josh Healy from the University of Melbourne, Rose Steele from the Young Workers Centre and Rachael Wilkinson from Land Corp Australia. While all three speakers came from different fields, key themes arose from each.

We learnt that technological advancements have changed the workplace and job security is now uncertain. The panel could not tell the audience what the future holds, but each emphasised how change is something that has happened in the past and is continuing to happen now. Notably, Wilkinson addressed that high-skilled jobs were on the rise while lower-skilled jobs were decreasing. Each speaker also noted the value of digital literacy skills combined with emotional intelligence capabilities, and noted that these traits will be in demand in the future across all different fields of work. This is relevant given statistics show that people now have 17 jobs within 5 careers over a lifetime as opposed to one. The panellist also highlighted that young people are finding it difficult to transition from full-time study to full-time work and the gig economy is growing.

We need to remember that this is not the fault of a young person, but just the way our system has changed.

In the second half of the day, youth organisation, YLab, conducted a workshop to discuss megatrends in future jobs and the top skills that employers are searching for in a highly technological society. When looking at the changing landscape of work, our group decided that the social services and caring professions will remain in high demand due to Australia’s ageing population, legislative requirements around healthcare reforms, and increasing pressures on physical and mental health. While the future will likely be business-oriented with a heavy focus on growth and innovation, the group collectively reinforced the importance of care and compassion as emerging workforce trends.

Compassion and emotional intelligence are trends that can radically shift the corporate landscape, build employee and employer relationships and heighten self-awareness in expressing and managing emotion.

Upon reflection, we found that ‘The Future World of Work’ is confronting and exciting in that it will offer a wide range of opportunities and experiences for inspired and educated youth.

The day left us feeling that the future of work was not so terrifying. Technology was going to change the types of jobs available and provide new opportunities. Despite this offering a sliver of relief, questions still need to be raised on how these valuable skills are being taught to young people; if the needs, security and rights of those in low-skilled jobs are being addressed; and what the future of work will look like in the face of rapid technological, social and environmental changes.

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