Technology and the Future of Australian Jobs

December 3, 2019

In 2017, Cisco and Oxford Economics teamed up to construct a ground-breaking labour market modelling tool to explore the future skills challenges facing the US economy in response to technological change.1 Leveraging the objective views of a broad panel of Cisco technology experts, this multi-layered modelling framework was designed to simulate how the nature of occupations and the shape of the labour market might evolve in response. It provided us with a platform for exploring the reskilling implications for policymakers, businesses, technology companies and workers seeking to smooth the transition.

In this report, we use this unique modelling tool to analyse the skills challenges facing the Australian economy. With technological change unfolding more rapidly than ever, no-one is invulnerable to disruption. Stakeholders across all sectors of the economy are asking what Australian workers must do to be ready for the opportunities and challenges that digital technologies present. How will healthcare, a fast-growing sector and the biggest employer in Australia, be affected by the wave of new technologies that could be implemented in the next 10 years? How exposed is the construction sector, another cornerstone of the Australian economy, to technological automation? This study projects how Australia’s labour market will most likely evolve around the changes technology will bring.

Many jobs will be displaced, but many others will be created, as productivity gains drive the Australian economy forward. Some prominent roles in today’s economy, such as finance managers and bartenders, may continue to play a significant role in a decade’s time, while others, such as lorry drivers and office clerks, reduce in number in a more digitalised economy. We explore what the implications will be from the bottom to the top of the Australian skills hierarchy, assessing the reskilling challenges that workers across all sectors will face. We also contrast these results with our previous analysis of the US and selected ASEAN countries2, to test the relative future-readiness of the Australian labour market.

Our modelling tool takes us forward in time to 2028, where we simulate the impact of technological advancements on the nature of work and the shape of the jobs market. While, in reality, these changes will be gradual and simultaneous, we report our analysis in four distinct sections, as follows:

  • In Chapter 2, we assess the jobs that will be displaced by technology.
  • In Chapter 3, we look at the jobs that will be created.
  • In Chapter 4, we map these dynamics together, to explain the overall impact on jobs in each sector of the Australian economy.
  • Then in Chapter 5, we model the transition from today’s balance of employment to that of 2028, using Oxford Economics’ Skills Matching Model to analyse the skills transitions that Australian workers will have to make.
  • In Chapter 6, we present the conclusions of our study.
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Australian jobs, CISCO, Healthcare, Human Era, Oxford Economics, Technology



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