Forum to explore the future of work for Tasmania

The Institute for the Study of Social Change is co-hosting a public forum The Future of Work at the Stanley Burbury Theatre, University of Sandy Bay tonight. For those who cannot make it along at 6pm, watch online or catch up later via livestream.

The panel event will be chaired by workplace demographer Lisa Denny, who joined the Institute for the Study of Social Change as a research fellow earlier this year.

Below is Lisa’s opinion piece on the future of work, which ran in the Mercury newspaper .

Institute for the Study of Social Change research fellow Lisa Denny will chair a forum on The Future of Work.

Institute for the Study of Social Change research fellow Lisa Denny will chair a forum on The Future of Work.

Jobs of the future coming ready or not. By Lisa Denny.

Getting and keeping a good job is one of the most important lifelong objectives for the vast majority of people across diverse geographies, cultures and demographics worldwide. To quote Liz Gilbert of Eat Pray Love fame, you do absolutely need a job. Unless you have a trust fund, or just won the lottery, or somebody is completely supporting you financially … you need a job.

A job allows individuals to participate in society, contribute to their community and generate income to support themselves and their dependents. Jobs provide security and freedom of choice and form an important part of self-identify and self-worth.

It is no wonder that as we face a combination of technological megatrends occurring simultaneously, collectively known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution (think the internet of things, artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, the growing peer to peer market place, digital disruption and so on) that the future of work and the implications for society are at the forefront of thinking for many people.

While it is universally accepted that change is constant and that labour markets have always responded and evolved accordingly, the difference we are experiencing now is the rate of change. As industries respond to this fourth revolution, most occupations are undergoing a fundamental transformation.

The full extent of this is yet to be felt in Australia’s labour market, and, as Tasmania traditionally lags the nation, perhaps we are well positioned to respond. However, in having this discussion it is important not to ignore the elephant in the room; one in three Tasmanians live in the 20 per cent most disadvantaged regions in Australia, around half of Tasmanians are functionally illiterate and 74,000 are living below the poverty line. One fifth of Tasmanian children are growing up in a family in which no parent works – in an economy in which welfare payments are considered the most secure and reliable form of income.

Is Tasmania already on the back foot in preparation for the fourth industrial revolution? How can we ensure the gap doesn’t widen further?

These are the issues I and my colleagues at the University of Tasmania hope to tackle in a public forum on the Future of Work on October 3. What will the fourth industrial revolution mean for Tasmanian industries, the broader economy, and more specifically, the job market? How do we respond to the changes to ensure we are prepared for the new future of work?

Much of the discussion about youth and employment is about ensuring that future generations of workers are “job ready” but more recently there has been a shift in thinking that much greater onus needs to be placed on employers and getting them “youth ready”.

At the other end of the spectrum, one of Tasmania’s greatest challenges is its ageing population. Not only is this reshaping our industry base, a rapidly ageing population also means we have an ageing workforce combined with the cohort of younger generations getting smaller in size.

There are now more people of retirement age exiting the workforce than young people entering the workforce. As the Australian Government strives to keep people in the labour force longer and as the economy transforms, Tasmanian educators and industries need to ensure that existing workers have the skills needed to adapt and be productive as the future of work evolves.

We hope Tasmanian employers, teachers, parents, students and those in the wider community will come to our Future of Work event next Tuesday (October 3) as we tackle these issues. Audience members will have the chance to hear from and ask questions of our panellists Elizabeth Lovett, a University of Tasmania alumnus who leads the Deloitte risk advisory practice in Tasmania; Joanna Siejka, the chief executive of Youth Network of Tasmania (YNOT); James Wright, chief executive of the Future Business Council; and another UTAS alumnus, mobile app developer Paris Buttfield-Addison, co-founder Secret Lab and co-creator of the award-winning iPad games for the ABC, Qantas and others.

Lisa Denny is a workplace demographer and a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Study of Social Change. She is chairing a free event on The Future of Work at the University of Tasmania in Sandy Bay on October 3 from 6pm (refreshments from 5:30pm). Register online.

The Institute for the Study of Social Change was created in April 2014 to provide research leadership in the social sciences and humanities at the University of Tasmania.

The Institute’s mission is to enhance our understanding of the causes of social change and to develop innovative and sustainable strategies to shape the trajectory of change and to address its consequences.


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