The future is human. But we are not ready..

According to Deloitte

A recent Deloitte Australia Insights report is entitled “The path to prosperity. Why the future of work is human”. It has some great insights and I highly recommend a read whether you are working in an Australian business or not.

You can download the report here.

The report reminds us that despite 27 years of economic growth, and resulting high living standards, Australia’s future economic standing is not a guarantee.

It will only improve if we continue to increase productivity through creativity and innovation in the workplace.

The report busts a number of myths including the fact that technology will not be a substitute for people. Robots wont destroy jobs. They will create more than they remove.

Hand to head to heart

The biggest takeaway for me from the report was the changing nature of work.

Technology can, and will, change how we work but it will complement what we do through automation.

We have moved from hand to head. We have moved away from manually intensive jobs towards jobs requiring more cognitive skills.

The demand now and into the future will be the skills of he heart which are embedded in both the work of the hands and the work of the head.

For example the tradesman need hand skills but also customer services skills – heart skills. The programmer needs head skills but also heart skills if they are required to teach and mentor others.

These are the skills that cannot be automated. They are interpersonal and creative. 

Some interesting statistics include:

·      86% of jobs created between now and 2030 will be knowledge worker jobs.

·      By 2030, one quarter of the Australian workforce will be professionals. Most of these will be in business services, health, education or engineering.

·      Two-thirds of jobs will be soft-skill intensive in 2030

Skills gap

The message that should be making organizations and businesses sit up and listen is that this shift is taking everyone by surprise. At the start of the decade, the typical worker lacked 1.2 of the critical skills needed by an employer to fill a given position. Today, the average worker is missing around 2 of the 18 critical skills that are advertised for a job. 

This skills gap is growing with the majority of the missing skills being those of the heart.

Deloitte gives the following examples:

96% of jobs in Australia require time management and organizational skills, while 97% also need customer service skills and 70% require verbal communication skills.

Australian employers want 3 million more people with digital literacy skills than are available. But that short supply is dwarfed by the severe shortage in customer service skills; employers need 5.3 million workers with such skills.


“Ultimately, skills, rather than occupations or qualifications, form the job currency of the future.”

Deloitte used a methodology (described in the report) to quantify the demand for, and supply of skills across the Australian workforce.

They captured skills including those of the hand such as manual skills, to those of the head including legal skills and problem solving, to those of the heart such as customer service and leadership.

They then examined the demand for these skills and the extent to which Australian workers possess them. 

The results of this supply and demand enquiry revealed that Australia is already facing a skills shortage.

“The shortages are significant – in 2019 along, there will be 23 million skill shortages across the economy. This is not people shortages but skill shortages. The equivalent of saying that every employee in Australia is, on average, missing 2 of the critical skills that they need to meet their employers’ expectations.”

Management versus leadership

An interesting observation was that we have an excess of management. Around 2.5 million more people have management skills than are required. But our lack of leadership skills offsets this, at a little over 3.1 million.

“We don't need box ticking, schedules and coordination – we need inspiration, coaching and vision.” 


Deloitte estimates that by 2030, is we continue on our current path, that there will be a total of 29 million skill shortages, almost 25% higher than the shortages we are already experiencing.

The report looked at the skills shortage by industry in 2030 with the top six being health, education, government, finance, transport and post, and professional services.

While the skills needed by each industry sector vary, there are common themes. By 2030, customer service and time management will be the most demanded skills in almost every industry

Other high demand skills include digital literacy, sales and innovative thinking.

Call to action

Every business across every industry needs to take stock of the skills it has today and those it will need tomorrow.

The advice to businesses is to start spending on training rather than recruitment. 

The skills needed by businesses are changing constantly and recruiting to fill the gaps is an expensive approach.

What is needed is upskilling of the people already in the workplace and building capabilities rather than trying to buy them. 

Today, business and government spend $4.6 billion in training the workforce compared with $7 billion they spend on recruitment. This numbers need to flip.

Businesses need to start getting ahead of the game today and refresh everyone’s skills. 

Bottom line

The report also discusses the nature of work and the workplace and makes the bold statement

“The opportunity is large. If we make better choices about our work, our workers and our workplaces, it could amount to a $36 million annual boost to economic welfare.”

The future of work demands that we put people at the centre of everything that we do.

Karen FerrisComment