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A lesson in learning to evolve

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Across all sectors of society from retail to mining, and from employment to education, the impact of an increasingly digital and automated world is having an irreversible impact.

By 2035, automation is predicted to replace 40% of Australia’s workforce (CEDA, 2015). This seismic shift is forcing universities across the country – and the world - to reassess how they can prepare today’s students for an increasingly uncertain job market.

While the jobs most likely to be replaced by automation are those that are routine and methodical, all of those in or preparing to enter the workforce are increasingly likely to bounce between many different careers during their working life.

Accordingly, universities and higher education institutions need to prepare students for the prospect of life-long learning. Learning that will deliver the flexibility to pursue longer working lives and also help students meet the challenge of change as they move from one career to another. The careers that are predicted to flourish are those that incorporate ‘human behaviours’ including creativity, empathy, emotional intelligence and problem solving.

While the foundations of literacy, language and numeracy will remain essential, a University of Queensland (UQ) report predicts that new key skills for employees will be critical thinking, complex cognitive reasoning, intercultural competence, data interpretation, coding and digital fluency grounded in STEM literacies. In fact it’s predicted that by 2030 workers will spend 77% more time per week using science and maths skills. (FYA, 2017)

The message from the team at UQ researching this trends is that today’s students, who will be the workforce of tomorrow, need to pursue an education and courses, which give them the skills to embrace and adapt to change and not be crushed by it.

This article is based on facts and issues raised in - The Higher Education Landscape: Trends and Implications – a UQ Discussion Paper prepared by Associate Professor Kelly Matthews, Ms Carmen Garratt and Professor Doune Macdonald in May 2018.

Download the paper here

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