a multi-generational future

By 2020, for the first time, there will be more millennials in the workforce than any other generation. They will make up 48% of the workforce and will have grown up in a digital world, with different expectations and demands of work, including lifelong learning.

In the ‘Workforce 2020’ report, Oxford Economics forecasts a multi-generational workforce in Australia, combining different skills, experiences and motivations. Sixty per cent of Australian executives say their organisations currently offer supplementary training programs, but only 43% of their employees believe they offer the right tools to help them grow and improve job performance.

Eighty-five per cent of Australian companies say they are increasingly using contingent, intermittent, seasonal or consultants, and 49% say that this requires increased investment in training.

The tools that many millennials embrace across their social lives – from apps, voice recognition and virtual reality to better connectivity and fast-two way communication – should not be barred from the workplace; though other generational groups may need help to acquire some of these as skills, if they are not second nature.

People will require lifelong learning as they work longer, including training for new tasks and managing job transitions, while the retirement of high-skilled baby-boomers is likely to mean large skill gaps. Socio-economic inequality is likely to increase; as today, the keys to future success will be the ability to adapt quickly to changes at work, to excel in collaborative working, and possess good communication, analytic and cognitive skills.

Given the increase in short-term contract working, individuals will take greater responsibility for acquiring and updating skills, taking advantage of new and different approaches to learning. Skills and attributes likely to be at a premium include: resilience, adaptability, enterprise, resourcefulness, self-organisation, problem solving, multi-tasking – in other words, essential soft skills – and the core business skills for project-based employment. More details about essential soft skills can be found in ‘competency frameworks’ in chapter 3.

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