Disruption and Degrees: Is the Tassel Worth the Hassle?

Ribit’s Queensland Rep, Chris, contemplates the meaning of (employment) life…

Will I even get a job?

How do I position myself in this ever-changing job market?

Is the tassel worth the hassle?

*insert existential crisis here*

Someone once told me that by the time an IT student graduates, over half of what they’ve learnt has already been made redundant by tech advancements. Don’t get me wrong as far as ‘in-demand’ skills go, anything tech related is a pretty safe bet. However, the point remains that our world is changing and so too is the job market around us.

If you’re a student or grad, there’s a good chance you’ve also been asking plenty of your own questions about the rapidly changing job landscape.

It is now more important than ever to ensure that students are armed with relevant experience to empower employability, confidence, and insights into the career landscape.

I, along with many of my fellow students find it quite difficult to answer the question around post-graduation employment and where/what I plan on doing with my degree. This hesitation is not for lack of motivation or academic ability but because the job market is changing at such a rate that from the student perspective it’s as if we’re boarding a rollercoaster while it’s still in motion.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom! CSIRO Data61’s very own Dr Claire Mason, in an interview on ABC’s ‘The Business’ argues that workers that add value and bring human skills which complement technology will continue to be in demand.

Lucky for us Claire is a friend of the frog and agreed to offer her top tips for students and grads entering the workforce to keep in mind early on in your career.

  1. Education is life-long and shouldn’t cease upon graduation; constantly search for new ways to broaden your skills deepen your understanding of the ever-changing world around you. Short courses are a great way to broaden your offering and expand into multidisciplinary roles.
  2. Employability in a more digital economy requires strong people skills – i.e. the ability to listen, define a complex problem, and make people feel understood. These skills are most important because:
    • Most of us work in the services sector, so we are working with people all day every day.
    • Machines don’t yet have the ability to demonstrate empathy, understanding, or deal with ‘fuzzy/abstract problems’.
  3. We need to focus on using technology to perform our job more efficiently (let it do the routine tasks) and then add value in ways that the technology cannot. So embrace technology and find ways of adding value with it. Workers who use technology to do their job more efficiently and focus on more complex aspects of their role e.g. programmers using bots to write code can expect to attract higher salaries in the long term. You don’t necessarily need to be able to program the technology, just know how to use it to solve the problem or challenge that you deal with in your work role.
  4. While technology helps us to be more efficient, our co-workers can lift our performance by giving us someone with which to bounce ideas around, providing complementary skills, exposing us to new ways of doing things. One of the reasons why high income jobs tend to be concentrated in large cities is because knowledge workers are more productive when they work with other high-performing knowledge workers. Even though digital technology allows us to work from anywhere, there is a real advantage to be gained by working alongside other people who help to lift our game.