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"In the future only 40 per cent of people will work in jobs that currently exist."

Employment forecasts indicate that in the next few years over one billion people will join the workforce, but only 40 per cent will work in jobs that currently exist.

The Deakin MBA community has taken Deakin Business School’s converged learning approach to a whole new level.

A professional development event, titled ‘Change before you have to: Digital disruption and the jobs of the future’, saw current and new MBA students, as well as alumni, gather in Sydney and Melbourne to discuss what is necessary for Australian businesses and the economy in general, to transition to a new machine-driven world.

The Deakin MBA has a sizeable alumni and student community outside of Melbourne and program director Associate Professor Colin Higgins says that technology enables more DBS online students to participate in the many networking and thought-leadership events held on campus.

‘We host high-calibre events in Melbourne on a frequent basis and also offer a successful series of webinars. But, gatherings like this one are a whole new ballgame – it is fantastic to see people networking together in person and in the cloud.

‘Using this type of technology enables us to give our students the opportunity to gain global citizenship and cross-cultural competence,’ he says. 

During the evening, Hugh Bradlow, Chief Scientist at Telstra, addressed both locations from Sydney, through a live-streamed video conference set-up, while Adrian Turner, Chief Executive of CSIRO’s Data 61 digital arm, presented from Melbourne.

Be a fast follower

As we enter an era of unprecedented change, being a fast follower rather than an originator is not a bad thing, Bradlow explains. ‘This way we enable ourselves to learn from other people’s mistakes.’

He points out that in the past 40 years, society has evolved from a world, where clunky computers were the norm, to one where technological items can be carried in your pocket.

‘We are turning the real world into a digital world and that will have huge impacts,’ he says.

Beyond technology itself, we are also changing our motor-behaviour. Statistics reveal that already, 50 per cent of Google searchers are conducted by voice. ‘In five years’ time we will be controlling our lives entirely by voice. Think setting our alarm, turning on devices and more,’ Bradlow says.

As we find ourselves in a situation, where we have abundant computing and abundant data, Bradlow suggests we are also starting to realise that at the moment, there is nothing to match the brain power of seven billion humans.

‘Computer architects’ latest challenge is to try and emulate the brain power of these seven billion humans, so they can create a machine that can process and digest all the information,’ he says.

Evolution of our primary industries

CSIRO’s Adrian Turner’s prediction for the future is that ‘we are moving towards a world where sensors and actuators for data provision and quantification purposes will become the norm.’

In terms of the wider economy, he says that our primary industries will be the next to experience the full brunt of digital disruption. ‘The next wave will affect industries such as agriculture, mining and health care. I feel through this change, there is an opportunity for us is to tackle emerging problems and create new industries.

‘Examples of new and emerging fields are cyber security and personalised medicine and nutrition,’ he says.

Stacking the odds thus seems to be in our favour and Turner says the key to success in this changing world will be to expand our children’s minds and tell them that there is a path to entrepreneurship everywhere. ‘As long as our kids remain fearless, our future remains bright.’