Fear not; technology creates jobs and millennials are riding the wave


Millennials have their whole working lives ahead of them, but they’re staring down the barrel of automation as new technology threatens to eliminate more and more of today’s jobs. It sounds like scary stuff, but according to new research by global job site Indeed, most Australian millennials are a step ahead of the boomers when it comes to making the right choices for job security.

It’s true – while studies suggest technology could eradicate 40 per cent of existing Aussie jobs by 2030, millennials’ future employment prospects might not be looking as dismal as the picture some like to paint. The analysis, based on six months of Indeed Australian job seeker activity from September 2016 to March 2017, shows those aged between 20 and 36-years-old are simply not as interested in automation-prone jobs compared to their older counterparts.

The study broke down Indeed job postings into two main groups: occupations involving repetitive tasks (known as routine tasks) and non-routine occupations. Routine jobs such as sales, administration, transport and construction roles are said to be at higher risk of automation than non-routine jobs including management, professional and service occupations.

The results revealed that while almost half of millennials (48 per cent) were searching for non-routine jobs requiring skills which are harder for technology to replicate, 57 per cent of boomers were seeking routine jobs which are, conversely, easier to automate. Older boomers are also 49 per cent more likely than younger millennials to show an interest in routine manual occupations such as installation, maintenance, repair, transportation, material moving, and personal care occupations.

But what’s really going on here, and should we be surprised at the results revealed by Indeed’s recent study? Sure – while people’s livelihoods hang in the balance, it’s easy to despair at the erosion of ‘existing jobs’ by technology, but we often fail to recognise the scores of new opportunities created in the process and what it means for our younger generations. Call it an evolutionary process of sorts.

A report published by Deloitte showed technology has in fact created more jobs than it destroyed in the last 144 years. Our millennials are riding that wave, and it all makes perfect sense. They’ve spent the best part of their lives feeding from the fruits of new technology-driven services and they’ve been inspired by their [young] creators. Whether we’re talking about Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook, the Australian founders of Atlassian, or the revolutionary Uber – these tech-entrepreneurs have given our millennials different career aspirations and expectations compared to their boomer counterparts, and they’re very much in line with where the job market is heading.

The analysis undertaken by Indeed shows millennials are far more likely than boomers to seek jobs that will teach them the skills needed to ‘future-proof’ their careers. Figures show millennials are more likely than the average job-seeker to search for jobs in design, media, education, training, computers, mathematics and business and financial operations. Meanwhile, boomers are significantly less likely than the average job-seeker to search for any of those roles. These job sectors offer the transferable, non-routine skills that can be applied to a range of occupations and are, in fact, a complement to technology – rather than a substitute.

So, it transpires that while some of us may be fretting about jobs of the future, millennials – for the most part – are busy upskilling themselves for the creative and strategic opportunities that new business start-ups will continue to offer in increasing numbers. They already know that we’re not looking at a task-based future for the workforce but rather, a future where people with the ideas and the skills to implement those ideas will prevail. Let’s call them the ‘can do’ generation.


About the author

Chris McDonald, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand, Indeed