Revealed: five skills needed for Australia's future of work

Wednesday, 03 March, 2021

Revealed: five skills needed for Australia's future of work

Australian businesses fared better than expected through the COVID-19 pandemic, with only 38% speaking of a slight to very negative impact on their business performance, ahead of their APAC counterparts (44%). Approximately 49% of Australian respondents said the pandemic had accelerated the adoption of new digital working practices, compared to 52% of companies globally and 48% across the APAC region.

Research from Cognizant has found that Australian businesses were quick to respond to the pandemic and took measures to manage a sudden influx of demand for digital services and handle employees remotely. With the transition to a more digital environment, Australian companies aim to generate 14% of their revenue from digital channels by 2023, an increase of 9% in 2021. Companies that view the pandemic as a catalyst for becoming digital and an opportunity to get closer to their customers and employees are forecast to grow stronger in the recovery.

Companies that put machine learning and artificial intelligence to use and create innovative products and services that help customers save time, money and effort are forecast to succeed. In this human–machine environment, human-centric skills are predicted to gain prominence. The top five skills Australian organisations say will become more important in 2023 are decision-making (64%), communication (55%), strategic thinking (54%), learning (53%) and leadership (52%).

The top five skills were prioritised differently in the APAC, with decision-making (59%), strategic thinking (54%), learning (53%), communication (52%) and leadership (52%) being the order of priorities. The research suggests that human workers will focus more on what to do with insights generated by AI, which requires the improvement of decision-making skills.

As remote working becomes the new normal and people transition to a hybrid working environment, Australian executives said the top three elements that will have a strong impact on businesses by 2023 are hyperconnectivity (56%), AI (46%) and process automation (46%).

While Cognizant’s data shows notable growth in automation, AI and machine learning, it won’t necessarily make humans redundant. Rather, it will lead to a greater requirement for certain human qualities that machines cannot replace.

As AI becomes more prominent among Australian businesses, data and the automation of tasks will become more accessible, with companies expecting jobs to become more specialised (55%) and work to become more analytical (46%) and more strategic (45%). Australian businesses also want AI to benefit their organisations by helping them achieve better decision-making (60%), operational efficiency (58%) and customer experience (54%).

With more customers moving online, businesses will be forced to access and analyse multiple disparate data sources to create personalised offerings and drive customer acquisition and retention. Machines will play an increasingly important role here, sifting through large datasets to filter and identity errors or actionable items (26% globally); collecting, curating and managing data (24% globally); and mining and analysing data to make predictions and recommendations (23% globally). Australia’s projections are at 26%, 24% and 24% respectively, up from 17%, 15% and 15% today.

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