Swinburne University of Technology has partnered with recruiter platform LinkedIn and Deloitte to launch its Centre for the New Workforce to help students and businesses adjust to the growing role of digital technologies in the economy.
Academics at the centre will investigate the changes already underway across the workforce and develop new approaches to learning so individuals and the organisations they work for can transition to higher-value work machines aren’t able to do.
Swinburne vice-chancellor professor Linda Kristjanson said the research will help keep educational institutions up to speed with the pace of automation and digital disruption, which is only set to increase in 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,” Kristjanson said on announcing the centre’s launch.
“Business in partnership with universities together have a central role in preparing people for the digital economy.”
Research commissioned by the university to coincide with the opening of the centre found that around a half of Australian workers are fearful of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence and automation.
Swinburne said governments should shoulder some of the responsibility in preparing the economy and those who power it or digital disruption given its far-reaching impact on society, but Australian workers are becoming more dissatisfied with how the government is enabling that transition compared to the education system or their employers.
Encouragingly, almost 60 percent of workers are prepared to upskill and avoid redundancies while making the most of new career opportunities, and over a third of those people said learning on the job would be their preferred way gain skills for future workforce.
But the centre’s director Dr Sean Gallagher said simply injecting digital skills into a traditional education is not enough to succeed in the digital economy.
“The Centre for the New Workforce recognises that the future of work must foremost be about people,” Gallagher 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.
“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.”