Centre for the New Workforce opens to prepare Australians for the future of work

Thursday 6 December 2018

workers looking at computer screens

New technologies are transforming work and workplaces, with the pace of change set to accelerate further in the coming years.

In summary

  • Centre for the New Workforce supports Australian businesses, organisations and their employees by developing new approaches to learning
  • Its mission is to empower people to thrive in the future of work
  • Over half of Australian workers fear losing their jobs due to the impact of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation

Swinburne has officially opened its Centre for the New Workforce. Based at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus, the Centre is a research initiative designed to support Australian businesses, organisations and their employees by developing new approaches to learning. The Centre’s mission is to empower people to thrive in the future of work.

More than half (51 per cent) of Australian workers are fearful about losing their jobs due to the impact of technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. This is one of the key takeaways from research undertaken by the Centre in collaboration with YouGov to coincide with the Centre’s opening.

Remarkably, working Australians fear the impact of technology on their job security even more so than the impact of the economy. In particular, most Australians feel they are not ready for the changes they expect over the next five years.

Encouragingly, the survey which polled 1,000 working Australians found that almost three in five (59 per cent) are prepared to take charge and be responsible for preparing themselves for the future of work. Australian workers want their learning to be work relevant. “Learning on the job” was ranked as their preferred (38 per cent) way to learn. 

This is at once both a significant opportunity for Australian businesses to help realise the potential of their employees in the digital economy, and a significant responsibility and cost.

As this benefits the economy and society more broadly, government must shoulder some of the responsibility and support businesses to better prepare Australians for the impact technology will have on jobs. Yet Australian workers were more dissatisfied with how government is preparing them for the workforce of the future than either the education system or their employer.

Swinburne’s Centre for the New Workforce is working alongside partners including Deloitte and LinkedIn to help organisations prepare their people to prosper in the face of digital disruption. The Centre investigates the fundamental changes underway in the future of work, and develops new approaches to learning that individuals and their organisations need to succeed.

“New technologies are transforming work and workplaces as we know them, and this pace of change is set to accelerate further in the coming years. As a society we must make sure we invest in our people as much as we invest in technology, to ensure we can thrive in the future of work. Business in partnership with universities together have a central role in preparing people for the digital economy. Swinburne is uniquely placed to address the future of work from both a vocational education and higher education perspective,” said Swinburne Vice-Chancellor Professor Linda Kristjanson on announcing the launch of the Centre for the New Workforce.

Dr Sean Gallagher, Director of the Centre of New Workforce said, “As companies and organisations increasingly begin to think about the digital economy, they tend to focus more on their technology requirements than on preparing their people. The Centre for the New Workforce recognises that the future of work must foremost be about people. Australian workers want to take on the responsibility of their own upskilling to prepare for the future of work. They want their learning to be work-relevant, accessible, and integrated with work in a supportive environment. Businesses have an opportunity – and an obligation – to enable this, by providing their workforce with the right tools and culture to achieve learning for the future of work.

Robbie Robertson, Partner, Experience Design Partner at Deloitte said, “Integrating learning in the workplace is enabling employees to take control of their career and provides them with security in their role to keep up with the increasing pace of change due to technology. Ultimately, the future workplace will be a combination of learning and work integrated into one.

“As a partner, we are collaborating alongside the Centre for the New Workforce to support business leaders in embracing new approaches to work in a disruptive future and developing solutions that will enable businesses to succeed in the future of work.”