Technology, Change and Uncertainty

Technology, Change and Uncertainty

In Australia, new technologies are transforming industries, organisations, and businesses. They have increased efficiency, expanded markets, and offered new opportunities. But as technology becomes more prevalent in the workplace, job processes will inevitably change.

What we wanted to know is if members of the Our Lives cohort believe these changes would threaten their own career plans.

Findings from qualitative interviews undertaken with 51 Our Lives participants in 2017, showed that while young people expect dramatic change over the next 20-30 years, they are confident in their ability to protect their ambitions. Some of the people we spoke to felt that following a career where the ‘human element’ was needed would protect them. Jobs such as medicine, policing, teaching, and social work, for example, were considered to be ‘future proof’. As one of our participants who works as a social worker explained:

“You can’t automate social services, you can’t automate going into a person’s home and checking that their child is safe, you can’t automate helping an intellectually disabled person with their work”.

Other participants believed that they could mitigate any risk by ensuring that they kept up with change and embraced new technology as it was introduced into the workplace. They argued that by keeping up to date they would be able to recognise new opportunities.

Finally, some participants spoke of being accepting of the fact that their jobs might one day be replaced. However, while they were uncertain about what their future career might look like, they were still confident in their ability to change and choose a new career pathway should the need demand. As another interviewee told us:

“I feel that I’m mentally able to change … Say, if my current job becomes obsolete because there’s a robot sitting there doing the exact same thing, which could happen, perfectly logically I have no problem going out to a different job”.

 What we have found is a high degree of confidence among young people and a belief they have the ability to manage any uncertainty and embrace the opportunities and challenges that working in the 21st century presents. Such findings bode well, as they show that young people are actively thinking about, and preparing for, the future of work.


 These findings were presented at The 28th Annual National Conference of the Career Development Association of Australia, (May 2-4, 2018) in Hobart.


Jacqueline Laughland-Booy