With the future of the economy placed at the front-and-centre of Australian political discourse, it’s no surprise that the increasing role of technology has become a hotly debated topic. A new report issued by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) has sounded a worrying alarm bell for today’s workers: within ten to fifteen years, almost 40 per cent of Australian jobs will be made redundant by the use of technology.

The startling statistic has led CEDA to advocate for a stronger and more collaborative approach to solving the impending employment crisis. Over the next two decades, the committee foresees a massive change in the working lives of more than five million Australians. To address the systemic change, the organisation believes that government and the private sector must work together to ensure gainful employment well into the future.

CEDA chief executive Professor Stephen Martin told the ABC that the changes would be unexpected and sudden. “What we’ve found is that going right through to dentists, and clergy and chemical engineers — and, dare I say, even editors of newspaper proprietors and heaven forbid even economists — all of these are in grave danger of perhaps outliving their usefulness,” he explained.

In the report, CEDA have highlighted the need to address the future of those jobs that required “…low levels of social interaction, low levels of creativity, or low levels of mobility and dexterity”. Those jobs will likely be the first to go, although the job losses may not be limited to work of that variety. “Health is an especially significant area likely to be impacted, through automation in clinical data and predictive diagnostics (analysis roles), to robotics assisting in areas from surgery to nursing and from hospital logistics to pharmaceutical dispensary,” the report reads.

Speaking to the future, Professor Martin remains adamant that the journey should begin with a concerted governmental effort.

“Every other country in the world is going to be faced with the same sorts of challenges, particularly in the era of globalisation,” he said. “We simply can not sit back and say a short-term political cycle will solve the problem. There are many deep and grave issues that this country needs to face to retain its economic first world status. We are competing with the rest of the world and tech disruption is going to affect us just like it’s going to affect everyone else.”

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