Tectonic changes create a moving work future for Generation Z

The changing economic landscape, and advances in technology, bring progress and unprecedented challenges for a new generation wondering what their careers will look like, says UNSW Business School’s Professor Richard Holden.

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Careers wil become more exciting: Richard Holden.

The last time Australia suffered a recession was in the early 90s. Youth unemployment, at 11.2 per cent, is the lowest it has been for seven years.

Only Denmark and Norway have a better quality of life among advanced economies, according to the OECD’s Better Life Index.

And the icing on the cake?

Unlike other advanced economies, most notably the United States, Australia seems to have bypassed the conundrum of widening income inequality, meaning opportunities and wealth are shared equally amongst Australians from different backgrounds and means.

What could possibly go wrong in the future for those born between 1994 and 2000 ‑ the so called Generation Z?

 Although the foundations of the Australian economy seem solid for now, “tectonic plates” are reshaping the economy and the workplace, says UNSW Business School’s Professor RIchard Holden.

The rise of robots has been, so far, restricted to lower-skilled professions such as factory workers. But artificial intelligence and automation show no signs of slowing. 

Another major repositioning has been the gig economy, in which freelance workers operate on a task-by-task basis, Major players being Airtasker, Uber and Freelancer. Workers are given flexibility but the trade-off is low job security.

Driverless cars and cashier-free grocery stores are also likely to come of age in the careers of Generation Z.

Professor Holden says the incoming generation of young Australian workers “will benefit from new technologies and increased flexibility” but will be “challenged by the large structural challenges that can disrupt large groups of people very quickly”.

Throw into the mix the rise of China and the shifting economic sands of power from the West towards the East, and you have fertile ground on which Generation Z can thrive. 

Professor Holden is cautiously optimistic about the overall outlook and says careers will be “more exciting, more volatile and will require more active management of their human capital than previous generations”.