The landscape of jobs is changing at a rapid rate. Gone are the days of people staying at a company for their entire working life. In 2019, it’s expected for us to have 15 different jobs across our career. And just as our careers are changing, we as workers need to change too. I headed along to WorldSkills and Department Of The Future’s ‘Story For Change’ event at the MCG to learn more about the future of our work force, and the WorldSkills documentary which is currently in development.

Opening the event was Luke Rattigan, the Chief Commercial Officer at Nura Operations. Nura creates headphones which automatically learn and adapt to your hearing. For music lovers, they are a must!

Luke Rattigan is uniquely qualified to talk about the future of our workforce, having built and lead six digital technology and digital businesses over the past 15+ years. He is a respected expert in commercial judgement, excelling in helping people and teams unleash their potential. He opened his speech with a single phrase, “jobs are dead.” The room immediately fell silent, because that’s a pretty confronting statement! All of our lives we’ve been told that we need to go to school and learn, in order to get a job. But as he spoke about how we as workers need to adapt to move with the times, it became clear that he believes that careers are built through life long learning and the continual development of skills. Learning doesn’t stop once you enter the workforce – it only begins.

The panel from left to right: Sharon Robertson, James Hourn, Dr Gail Iles, David Prior & Dr Michael Hewitt-Gleeson. Image supplied by Department Of The Future.

Next up was the panel discussion. The facilitator of the panel was Sharon Robertson, the CEO of IBSA. She was joined by James Hourn, Commercial Director of JobReady Solutions, Dr. Gail Iles, PhD Physics Lecturer at RMIT and former astronaut trainer, David Prior, the Project & Research Officer for the Committee for Melbourne, and cognitive scientist Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson, the Co-Founder and Principal of the School of Thinking.

Every member of the panel expressed concern about the next generation can prepare themselves to have the skills needed for the future. With the fourth industrial revolution underway (the rise of personal computers and the internet), we need to shift the way we view jobs and education. “People are going to have to rapidly uptake and learn skills,” David Prior explained. He urged that micro-credentials are the way of the future, as they enable us to quickly learn packets of information as needed.

Dr. Gail Iles emphasies the importance of the development of soft skills in the work force. “When we have all the information in the world equipped in the smart phone, young people are not good at starting conversations,” she suggested that young people need to learn resilience, communication, adaptability and team building skills in order to succeed in the future workforce. David Prior agreed, saying “the skills which are uniquely human will always remain important.”

WorldSkills Australia CEO Brett Judd presenting the panel at the Story For Change event.

When you graduate high school and university, you are expected to know what you want to do for your career. I for one have had this decision making about my future plaguing me for years. Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson explained that there is a very real problem with pushing decision making about their future on young people – “the pre-frontal cortex doesn’t come on board until you are 25,” he said. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for decision making, critical thinking and lateral thinking. So it’s no wonder that deciding what you want to do with your life when you graduate university at 22 seems incredibly daunting! Dr. Michael Hewitt-Gleeson pushed the need for us to start “thinking about thinking.” “We are using 2500 year old logic,” he said.

“We need to go past the binary of ‘you’re right, I’m wrong’, to ‘how can we create value’.”

The panel discussion then shifted to the skill shortage in Australia, and the importance of VET training and skills in our workforce.

“The country doesn’t run on people who have degrees, it runs on people who build trains and MCGs.” – Dr Gail Iles

Dr. Gail Iles told us that although she has a PhD in Physics, she is also a fully qualified business administrator, having first completed a business administration TAFE course, before pursuing university education. “I’m just as proud of my business administrator qualifications as my PhD, and those skills help me in my PhD work,” she said.

James Hourn agreed with the sentiment of Dr Gail Iles statements, adding the need for skilled workers to be humanised in our society. “Someone who built the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we don’t know who they are. But we know who won the 100m sprint. Why is there that disconnect? That’s why we need to tell these stories.”

Founder and Managing Director of Department Of The Future, Ivan Gomez (pictured), explains the thought process behind the WorldSkills documentary at the event on 9th May.

James Hourn’s point about telling the stories of the skilled workers in our society led into the main event of the night – the announcement of the documentary which WorldSkills is developing with Department Of The Future.

The WorldSkills documentary will chronicle the journey of the Australian WorldSkills competitors (known as Skillaroos) to the international competition to be held this year in Russia. We were shown a teaser video for the documentary on the MCG screen, and the audience were all enraptured. It was brilliant to see Australian trades shown on screen in an exciting, innovative way.

I believe that this documentary will change how trades are viewed in Australia. The reality is that working in a trade is an incredibly important profession, and we need to show our trades much more love and respect in Australia! Because there is a skill shortage in Australia (which is a very serious issue), there is vast opportunities for people to learn a trade. Hopefully this documentary will de-stigmatize this career path, and celebrate the incredible tradesmen and women in Australia who are at the top of their game.

Follow the Campaign For Change via the WorldSkills Facebook Page.