Young Australians and the Future of Work: Insights from the Our Lives Project

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Jacqueline LAUGHLAND-BOOŸ, School of Social Sciences, Monash University, Australia
Zlatko SKRBIS, Monash University, Australia
There is a growing body of literature devoted to predicting how jobs will change in the 21st century. Suggestions have also been posed regarding the types of knowledge and skills that young people will require. The literature, however, does not tell us if young adults of today feel adequately prepared for the future of work.

The ‘Our Lives’ project is an ongoing longitudinal study of a single-aged cohort of more than 2000 young people from Queensland, Australia. Currently aged approximately 25 years old, many participants in this project have already embarked on a career pathway. We have undertaken in-depth interviews with a subset of 50 Our Lives participants on their expectations and plans regarding work and working in the 21st century.

In this paper we report our participants’ views regarding the extent to which their chosen careers are likely to change in the future and the various strategies they will use to ensure that they remain employable over the decades to come. Our participants are well aware that their careers will likely undergo some dramatic transformations, but are confident in their ability to adapt should the need demand. They have also articulated the types of skills they believe will be necessary in order to ‘future proof’ their career trajectories. These skills include flexibility, entrepreneurialism, innovation, and imagination.