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Future workforce trends in NSW: Emerging technologies and their potential impact

Future workforce trends in NSW: Emerging technologies and their potential impact

Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion.
Briefing Paper No 13/2015 by Chris Angus
In the industrial era the world of work, and the way society functions more generally, has been shaped and reshaped by technological innovation. With the advent of the digital age, the pace of change and the scope and capacity for innovation have increased exponentially.

This paper reviews the future implications of emerging technology for the labour force. In particular, it looks at how the “computerisation” of work is likely to impact the labour market more broadly. Computerisation creates opportunities, such as greater workplace flexibility and productivity gains; there are also a number of potential risks, including increased unemployment and rising income inequality.

Focusing on NSW, this paper applies existing research to State electorates in order to determine which workforces in which areas of NSW are most, and least, likely to be affected by computerisation. Key findings include the following:
    · Approximately two out of five (40.9%) NSW jobs are in the highest risk category (>70%) for the probability of computerisation over the next 10 to 15 years;
    · Several major employment groups, notably labourers, and machinery operators and drivers, have very high probabilities of computerisation; and
    · NSW electorates with greater numbers of low and middle skilled workers have greater exposure to job computerisation.

At both the State and Commonwealth level there have been a number of policy initiatives aimed at helping the Australian workforce adapt to changing technology, including increased science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Other national and international initiatives include “Flexicurity” and Active Labour Market Policies, along with increased support for startup companies.