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Career predictions for Generation Z

"The future accountant needs to understand what drives business prosperity and measure it".

A few decades ago, it was possible to ask a child what they wanted to be when they grew up and know the role would exist by the time they entered the workforce. But for Generation Z, nothing is certain. Technology is changing the way we work and creating new roles faster than we can dream them up. For members of Generation Z, this presents some challenges when it comes to choosing a career and planning for the inevitable changes that will occur during their time in the workforce.

The ABC of Z

Generation Z, born from 1995 to 2009, is the first generation that’s grown up with digital products heavily integrated into their lives. Yet the global upheaval they’ve been exposed to since birth, from terrorism to natural disasters and the Global Financial Crisis, makes them all too aware that the future is no utopia.

The upside is they’re primed for constant change and this is reflected in their future career expectations. According to a survey by NAB, 73% see constant learning as vital in their careers. Becoming set in their ways is simply not an option. In fact, this generation’s ability to tackle change with ease sets them up with the skills to become highly entrepreneurial and set the agenda for the future of work. While some fear robots will take our jobs one day, technology is much more likely to free us up to do more meaningful tasks at work.

Crunching the numbers

You may think traditional fields like accounting will become obsolete in the near future, but accounting jobs are set to be in the top five roles that require a tertiary qualification by 2025. The reason, according to Professor Peter Carey, head of Deakin Business School’s accounting department, is any business can benefit from the expertise of an accountant with the right skills – they won’t be the bookkeepers of the past, they’ll be business advisers with an aptitude for integrated reporting.

‘The future accountant needs to understand what drives business prosperity and measure it,’ he says. To do that, they’ll go far beyond granular checks and balances. Instead they’ll find the value in human capital. ‘Accountants will burrow into the thing about the business that gives it a competitive advantage and understand the drivers of business prosperity,’ Prof. Carey says.

He adds that accounting graduates, like those in most industries, will have a competitive advantage if they have an innate understanding of technology, including the newest accounting tools such as Xero cloud-based software. Mastering these programs will allow the best accountants to spend more time calculating where the biggest opportunities in business lie.

'Accountants will burrow into the thing about the business that gives it a competitive advantage and understand the drivers of business prosperity.'

The next wave of communications

Similarly, communications professionals will continue to be in demand, but their roles will rely on digital dexterity. Writers will increasingly be crafting copy for a range of digital channels. There will be a huge demand for those with visual communications skills, as the digital space will begin to converge with other fields.

Dr Russell Kennedy, Visual Communication Design Course Director at Deakin University points to futuristic roles such as ‘augmented information designer ‘and ‘design thinking strategist’, which will require a communications designer to consider the visual experience, as well as the journey a user takes through a digital product. ‘Deakin graduates will find themselves working in a range of areas including immersive environments such as augmented and virtual reality, smart product design and even human biology. Designers are already working on projects involving virtual reality training for surgeons, augmented reality way-finding systems, user interface systems for self-driving cars and even 3D printed body parts,’ Dr Kennedy says.

This merging of many fields with communications will give rise to surprising new roles, such as ‘human organ designers’, who will require a fusion of bio-engineering and design skills, or ‘machine learning designers’, who’ll combine AI knowledge and design thinking.

Bridging the gap between humans and technology

No industry will be untouched by change in the coming decade. The early prediction is that healthcare and social assistance, education and training, technical services and construction will provide more than half of all new employment opportunities between now and 2019.

For example, the education sector will be disrupted by innovation and technological integration in the classroom, while the range of jobs in healthcare will boom as our growing population ages. Overall, the future belongs to members of Generation Z with the ability to adopt new technology early, without losing their human skills.

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