By Allison Tait, ninemsn Finance
It's a question writers have asked time and time again: what will the world look like in the future? From George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four to Cormac McCarthy's The Road , writers have explored the possibilities, the probabilities and the plain fantastic. And it seems that, more and more, jobseekers are following in their footsteps.
The job market of the future is a brave new frontier. Think back to the 1980s, when computers were just becoming personal and the Internet had yet to open its doors to the public. Back then, web designer, HTML expert and even "office IT guy" were job titles that didn't exist. It was also a time when only rich people had cleaners, dog walkers and gardeners, before the boom in outsourcing allowed people to create self-employment heaven providing dual-employment families with basic necessities.
So what will the next five to 10 years bring for Australia's jobs market?
Brave new (social) world
"It will look very different," says Melbourne-based psychologist and career-change specialist Meredith Fuller. "I think that, more and more, people are creating their own positions, connecting up with people they know and like. They're looking to work with people they trust and with whom they have common values and goals. They'll play to their strengths and create their own jobs."
Fuller likens it back to pre-industrial days, when you found work within your social networks. "I think the biggest change will be in how people find jobs," Fuller says. "Word of mouth will be much more important."
Joe Powell, managing director for Seek employment, agrees — to a point.
"There will be some change," Powell says. "The concept of networking isn't new but now it's been enabled by the Internet in a different way. But it can be very time consuming for employers to find and engage people on social networks and, equally, jobseekers who choose to use social networks will have to approach organisations individually, which is, again time consuming."
A more streamlined approach to job searching will be more likely, according to Powell. "What we continue to find is that jobseekers want to see all the jobs in one place," he says. "So we'll probably see job boards evolving their capacity for jobseekers to create and control professional profiles as part of their overall effort."
An odyssey to flexibility
Powell and Fuller agree that the era of flexibility is upon us. "People get sick of being loyal to an organisation for years and then being made redundant," Fuller says. "They'll decide what they want to sell in the marketplace — do a job for half the week and then do their own thing for the other half. More and more, people won't give their heart and soul to a job they don't believe in."
For Powell, it's as much about practicalities. "The trend for both parents to be in the workforce with young families will mean a greater need for employers to support employees in this situation," he says. "Through the recent downturn, we saw employers switch to only hiring part-time or contract workers, but as the economy continues to improve there'll be a greater demand for permanent employees and flexibility around hours and 'work from home' type arrangements — which are certainly becoming more desired by employees."
This is not the time, though, to stop continuing to improve your skills. "With our population ageing and more people projected to leave the workforce than enter it, employers may have difficulty over time finding candidates for skilled roles," Powell says.
"Make sure your skills are always in demand by embracing continuous learning," Fuller says. "You can't just study to be X and hope for the best anymore. Look at always gaining experiences, be prepared to be portable, so you can move your skills around to a wide variety of places. Learn to read opportunities — watch, look and listen."
Back to the future
For Fuller, the most employable areas of the future centre on our ageing population. "Particularly care," she says. "People don't want to go into a home, so they're setting up their lives so they don't have to. There's more private care work emerging, as well as another big surge in service area jobs — cleaners, shoppers, gardeners."
Powell says that the five categories that are consistently Seek's largest job boards — IT, sales and marketing, accounting, healthcare and administration — will continue to grow. He offers the following five predictions on the top five employable areas of the future:
1. IT and online. "In an increasingly technical and connected world there's a need for people to build and maintain IT infrastructures," Powell says.
2. Mining and resources. "To fulfil the continued demand for energy and raw materials."
3. Healthcare and medical. "The ageing population means more people are needed in an area where it's already tough to find skilled candidates," he says.
4. Environmental. "Driven by climate change and a desire or need to be green by consumers."
Construction. "A booming populations means more demand for housing, be it rented or buying, plus government-funded projects needed to provide the necessary infrastructure."
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