What does the future of work look like?

By Finn Blake (student)

Last week, a panel of Trinity alumni joined us on Zoom from around Australia to discuss what the next generation of jobs will look like. The big question was, how can we best prepare for the workforce of the future?

Jobs of the Future-Trinity College

The COVID-19 pandemic has reverberated through the global workforce, significantly changing the job landscape in what is being called the ‘new normal’. At a pertinent time when many Trinity College students are planning their careers, there was no better opportunity to speak to the experts about what to expect from our jobs of the future.

Trinity College alumni Shu Lam (TCFS 2008), Rob Grant (TC 1985), Brian Law (TC 2006) and Hannah Szto (TC 2012) joined an audience of current Trinity students to provide insight into the trends that will dominate the work landscape of the future.

Business Development Manager at IQVIA Shu Lam is responsible for conducting clinical trials for emerging biopharma companies, taking them one step closer to reaching the consumer.

From Shu’s perspective, she has seen a growing trend in workers being hired in areas that are not related to their past education.

‘You often see people doing jobs that are not really related to what they studied. There’s a very big emphasis on people being able to be multidisciplinary, taking on cross-functional roles,’ says Shu.

Perhaps the perfect example of this lies in the story of Hannah Szto, who works as a consultant in the legal counsel at Deloitte. Hannah, who completed a Bachelor of Science, is still shocked by the fact that she went on to become a lawyer.

‘Being a lawyer was one of those things I explicitly said I didn’t want to do growing up,’ she says. ‘It wasn’t until all my honours offers were rejected that I thought I should readjust my expectations of what I wanted to do. I realised I wanted to be part of the idea to market process, I just didn’t know where along that spectrum I wanted to sit.’

It was in Hannah’s Master of Business (Science and Technology) degree where she learned more about disciplines outside of her scientific background. She quickly discovered that her skillset was perfectly suited to a career in the commercial world.

Hannah is an advocate for skill building through micro-credentialing and on the job training. She believes that these skills will be the ideal currency when attempting to search for jobs of the future.

‘We need to stop looking at ‘what my next job is going to be’, ‘what’s the ideal role’, ‘what is the career for me’. But instead we need to ask, ‘what skills do I want to start accumulating’? We cannot proceed with blinders on,’ says Hannah.

Much like the graduates of today, Solutions Engineer at Cloudera Brian Law experienced graduation during a global recession back in 2008.

Brian stresses the need for graduates to remain agile in these challenging times.

‘What I see now as the trend can be totally different to when you graduate. It’s more about your adaptability and your ability to learn and progress,’ he says.

The solutions engineer also believes that jobs in the technology sector appear very attractive, given their ability to weather the storm of the pandemic.

‘Even with the recent crunch, I know companies have been laying people off, but tech has still been going quite firm and I can only see the demand going up.’

Shu and Brian agree that growth of new jobs, particularly in the area of data science, will flood the market.

‘Data science and machine learning is all around you these days. The data is there, companies just need help figuring out how to use it,’ says Brian.

Director of Energy at Fortescue Metals Group Rob Grant emphasised the importance of developing a strong ESG (environmental social and governance) culture in companies of the future.

‘There’s no doubt investors have become more sophisticated around their understanding of ESG and how to get organisations that they invest in to comply with ESG standards,’ says Rob.

‘It’s not a win-lose – if you have a strong ESG culture, you can also be creating incremental shareholder value above the index.’

Although none of the experts involved in the discussion had a definite depiction of the jobs of the future, the consensus was clear among the panel. The trends are telling us that job seekers of the future must remain agile, build a diverse range of skills and be ready to take on challenges that do not yet exist.

This 'Jobs of the Future' panel discussion formed part of Trinity College’s Career Connect series for students and alumni.

By Finn Blake

17 Aug 2020
Category: Learning