Technology would continue to generate more jobs than it destroyed, largely because robots did not have the skill set of humans.
“We don’t face a dystopian future of rising unemployment, aimless career paths and empty offices,” Mr Rumbens said.
“Yes, technology is driving change in the way we work and the work we do, but it’s ultimately not a substitute for people. Technology is much more about augmentation than automation, and many more jobs will change in nature because of automation rather than disappear altogether.”
Automation and robots were useful in “routine” jobs that were largely manual in nature. These occupations, such as caretakers or concreters, had suffered relatively subdued growth over the past three decades.
But Deloitte Access estimates that the number of non-routine jobs in Australia will overtake routine ones by next year. In 1988, routine work accounted for 56 per cent of all employment.
This growth in non-routine jobs meant workers needed to develop or improve “heart” and cognitive skills.
The company found the biggest threat to Australian businesses, and the nation’s workforce, was the lack of skills among those seeking a job.
At the start of the decade, the typical worker lacked 1.2 of the “critical skills” needed by employers to fill a given position. The average worker is now missing two of the 18 skills advertised by businesses.
Mr Rumbens said about 80 per cent of the jobs to be created by 2030 would be for knowledge workers with skills in areas such as creativity, care for others, analysis and design. The largest skill shortfall at present was customer service.
He said if Australian firms invested more in the skills of their workers, the pay-off for the economy could be $36 billion a year in extra national income by 2030. But failure to adapt to these changes in the workforce could result in Australia’s standard of living falling.
We don’t face a dystopian future of rising unemployment, aimless career paths and empty offices.
“These new trends are happening so fast they’re catching workers, businesses and governments by surprise,” he said.
Deloitte Access also found that despite suggestions people would work from home, the proportion of home workers had remained around 4 per cent of the population for decades. Concerns about the gig economy were also unfounded, with the proportion of people in casual work actually falling over the past 20 years.
Shane is a senior economics correspondent for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.