Futurologist & Author Rocky Scopelliti has released his new book Australia 2030! Where the bloody hell are we?, a new Australian-first book on Australian professionals sentiment about the decade ahead, based on a major study conducted before and during the eye of the COVID-19 storm.
As highlighted throughout the book, trust in our institutions, leaders and systems has fallen to an all-time low. While many people talk of a ‘trust recovery’, I predict that we have crossed the inflection point, upon which the question has changed from ‘who do we trust’ to ‘what do we trust’. The implications of this are profound for two key reasons. First, it suggests that restoration of trust as it was bestowed, and to recipient actors, in the past, will unlikely produce a result. Second, we will see the transition from placing our trust in governments, banks, retailers and other organisations to technology.
The Australia 2030 research found overwhelming support for that prediction with 60 per cent of respondents believing that we will trust technology more than institutions over the coming decade (see Exhibit 1). That skyrocketed to 90 per cent for those respondents in March 2020 with 65 per cent strongly agreeing with that statement. Demographically, Millennials held that belief more so than other age groups (76 per cent). At a professional level, 60 per cent of CEOs, directors and chairmen agreed with that belief. When it comes to those who trust robots to make decisions on our behalf, 75 per cent believe that we will trust technology more than institutions over the coming decade.
Exhibit 1: Q. In your opinion, do you believe we will trust technology more than institutions such as Government, banks, retailers etc over the coming 10 years? (%)
For Australia, like all other nations, the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic required government to step in to head off a health care and economic crisis. Stimulus packages, securing health care capacity, value chain security, population isolation policies and much more were invoked to protect our population. This intervention required government to play a very different role to that not seen since wartime. Importantly, that role required leadership of an electorate whose trust had been eroded. An electorate that had lost faith in its financial, spiritual and healthcare institutions. However, what has emerged is an unprecedented level of collaboration between government and business across all social, economic and political aspects of our society. That was systems leadership and the opportunity that awaits on the other side.
One of the 37 predictions I make in the book about the coming decade is that a new distributed trust world order will emerge. The pursuit of ‘trust restoration’ to hierarchical models in the hands of few is a fanciful pursuit. We have crossed the point where we hold greater trust in our own individuality that empowers us through symmetrical access to developments anywhere, anytime and anyhow.
How can Australia increase its capacity to adapt to a world of accelerated change?
This question has been the subject of my research for more than 16 years now. So, what is the answer? Well unlike a closed puzzle where we know what answer will look like before we begin, or an open puzzle where we need to figure out the answer as we go, this question behaves more like a mystery that keeps us on the edge of our seats and induces our curiosity every step of the way, and just when we think we know the answer, another mystery emerges. The unprecedented events of the bushfires over the summer and the twists and turns of COVID-19: the measures we’ve taken to control it, to respond to its impacts and how our reactions will unfold at an individual, demographic and societal level over years to come are a fine example of the mystery. For the world and for Australia, the setting for this mystery is the 4th Industrial Revolution that is impacting every nation, industry, economy, organization, society and, individual. It is a mystery that will dictate our social, cultural, economic and technological future.
Like the plot of any good mystery, our journey forward will undoubtedly feature heroes and villains, points of tension and struggles sometimes verging of hopelessness. It will feature critical crossroads where the wrong path is chosen points. It may even feature moments of farce. But ultimately there is also much to look forward to in the resolution – improved health, education, lifestyles, jobs new businesses and industries and the potential to help the emerging generations who are our future to be better humans than we.
But that optimism, is causing fear about change. For example, the words ‘robotics’ or ‘artificial intelligence’ translate into the message of ‘job loss’ on the streets. Technology such as mobile apps that monitor our contact exposure to COVID-19, translate into intrusion of privacy and present cyber risk. This mystery will be unlike any other because of the significant advancements of the technology revolution, and the willingness of our society to tackle past unsolved problems and unexplored horizons.
The reskilling revolution
A reskilling revolution was launched at this year’s 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. This multi stakeholder initiative has the bold aim to provide better education, new skills and better work to a billion people around the world by 2030. The objective is to prepare the global workforce with the skills needed to future-proof their careers against the expected displacement of millions of jobs and skills instability as a result of technological change. For Australia, our economy is in transition and the capacity to transform our skills will be a critical success factor for a prosperous, equitable, inclusive and fair society.
We know the digital era has created this disruption and most industries are struggling to keep pace with the demands for new skills. As leaders of enterprise, government and academia, it is our joint responsibility, indeed our obligation, to prepare our existing workforce and those entering the workforce for a very different future.
Jobs are changing, that’s irrefutable.
So, what do these jobs look like? What will be automated? What processes can benefit from harnessing 4th Industrial Revolution technologies? What blend of technical, hard and soft skills will be required? These are all critical questions Australians should be addressing.
We need roles people can step into that will fuel our economy and launch Australia into a far more prosperous and sustainable future. Jobs like cyber specialists, engineers, data analysts, programmers, robotic repairs, AI, ML and Internet of Things integrators and scientists. Our ability to handle unpredictable situations that require out-of-the-box thinking – critical thinking, problem solving, empathy, understanding, creativity and collaboration – are all skills that must be encouraged and developed. These are the lifelong transferable skills irrespective of the career choices we make.
Think of the rapid advances in science and technology changing health care and medicine. COVID-19 brought this to our attention on a global scale with the speed at which the world’s scientists are searching for effective vaccines and treatments. How we stay healthy in 2030 will be very different from today. Remote health monitoring, robotic surgery, the 3D printing of organs and bones are now realities. This all creates the need for workforces that can innovate, build, operate, fix and feed the machines.
The evidence to date suggests that nations, industries and corporations are yet to fully capitalise on the benefits of the current digital revolution which may well be the single biggest barrier to unlocking the potential of the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Today, leaders are aware of the need to upskill, reskill and recruit employees with the required digital capabilities for this new way of work. This optimism is certainly reflected in the Australia 2030 research, which found that Australian professionals across all demographic profiles believe that technology will create more jobs than it destroys over the coming 10 years. Particularly so for Millennials (63 per cent) (see Exhibit 2).
Source: Australia 2030 research Rocky Scopelliti
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