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Young People Need a New Work Mindset

25 November 2016 at 5:30 pm
Wendy Williams
A “liberating” new report hopes to transform the work mindset and shift focus from jobs to skills in a bid to prepare young people for the future of work.

Wendy Williams | 25 November 2016 at 5:30 pm


Young People Need a New Work Mindset
25 November 2016 at 5:30 pm

A “liberating” new report hopes to transform the work mindset and shift focus from jobs to skills in a bid to prepare young people for the future of work.  

The New Work Mindset from the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), analysed more than 2.7 million job advertisements to reveal seven new job clusters where the required skills are closely related and more portable than previously thought.

According to the report, when a person trains for or works in one job, they acquire skills for an average of 13 other jobs.

FYA CEO Jan Owen AM told Pro Bono Australia News the report “busts the myth” around the idea of a linear career.

“So one of the great things about this report is that it says that if you look at skills and capabilities rather than jobs you see a whole lot of similarities,” Owen said.

“It makes that the portable part not the job that you did.

“So it kind of flips the entire story about jobs and careers on its head and says it’s the skills and capabilities that you build into a portfolio and that’s what unlocks, in our case and the clusters we’ve worked through…13 other jobs in a cluster, which is really powerful because I think until now we thought you have got to go to one job and then you go to another one and then you are… kind of up this ladder.

“The report definitely says that this is no longer the case.

“So [the report] should be… illuminating, instructive and liberating.”

Owen said the report also highlighted that current careers advice is outdated for the new work order.

“At the moment much of the focus around the future of work is on which jobs will disappear and which will remain,” she said.  

“There is also an ongoing conversation regarding the importance of STEM in the new work order but how this is applied, with seven out of 10 jobs needing digital skills in the near future, will need us to think more laterally.  

“This report shows our mindset needs to shift to reflect a more dynamic future of work where linear careers will not exist and young people will need a portfolio of skills and capabilities, including career management skills, to navigate multiple roles within a jobs cluster.    

“By shifting our focus from jobs to skills and capabilities and understanding the most portable and in demand skills in the new economy, young people can work to equip themselves with the right portfolio of skills.”

Owen said employers and recruiters could also learn from the report’s findings.

“This is for everyone,” she said.

“This encourages employers and recruiters to see jobs in clusters and to see skills and capabilities as part of that.

“So for employers, this gives them… a much bigger pool to recruit from and that is very important.

“It gives recruiters, again, another new lens on looking at a job seeker and thinking about it in a much more connected way rather than as I said in a linear way… which is a huge positive.”

According to the report, the seven clusters are:

  • Artisans (builders and maintainers)
  • Generators (sellers and servers)
  • Coordinators (balance the books and do repetitive tasks)
  • Informers (teach and provide information)
  • Designers (use expertise to construct or engineer things)
  • Carers (improve the wellbeing of others)
  • Technologists (understand and manipulate digital technology).

The report suggests in the future young people should be focusing on their strengths and interest areas rather just the one dream job.

“There is a couple of really good case examples in the report,” she said.

“One young woman, Isabelle wanted to get into health sciences but was… waitressing, and by seeing that going into a dental assistant job could get access to personal care and hygiene care and looking after people in that way and ended up doing speech pathology.

“So even those early-stage or part-time jobs if you can see where there is a cluster that might contain one of your passions or areas of interest you can see that there are lots of things that you can do in that job area, just to see it as stepping stones, and I think again this is super helpful as it says which stepping stones are most linked by their capability and skillset that’s required rather than by the job per se.”

But Owen said the report, which is fourth report in FYA’s New Work Order series launched in 2015, also showed the risks for young people in the new work order.  

“This new data shows that not all the job clusters will have strong future prospects which may drive unemployment and inequality,” Owen said.  

“The question that we get asked all the time is where are the opportunities going to be… this is why information is so important.

“Young people need accurate information to help them make decisions about which job clusters they are most suited to and where they are likely to have most longevity.

“It is about just having your eyes wide open as you go in.

“I think what was so interesting with things like the artisans, where obviously there is some automation that is going to come in, and this is the message across the entire piece … [is] that with some upskilling or retraining, in many of the clusters you could move to another place and to another job that could have better prospects.

“And I thought that was so powerful. So many young people are getting a degree and then another degree and then doing a masters and a postgraduate and actually this points to the insanity of that.

“Because actually it says with a bit of a pivot and with some upskilling or retraining, you could go to the next step… so this again I  think is really liberating to say this is not about you have to go and get another degree it basically says your working life and learning are lifelong, it’s not one-off, and you can open up new areas as you go and I think that’s really, really important.”

FYA said the report reinforced the need to invest in an enterprise skills and careers education strategy to ensure young people were developing a portfolio of transferable enterprise skills and provide information to help them navigate the changing world of work.

“Our government, employers, educators, tertiary institutions, young people and parents can embrace this new mindset by coming together to discuss how we can best prepare young people for the future of work,” she said.

“Throughout our New Work Order report series, we have highlighted the need to invest in a national enterprise skills and careers education strategy to help shape education in Australia.”

They are calling for a strategy to:

  • begin early in primary school and build consistently, year on year, throughout high school
  • be provided in ways that young people want to learn: through experience, immersion and with peers
  • provide accurate information about and exposure to future jobs and the skills to craft and navigate multiple careers  
  • engage students, schools, industry and parents in co-designing opportunities in and outside the classroom.  

Owen said people were already starting to reshape and have this mindshift.

“That is what is so promising about this research for everyone,” she said.

“Think portfolio, think portability, and think mobility.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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