What you can do today to prepare for the future of work: Individuals, Families and Organizations


The Commonwealth Bank Jobs and Skills of the Future Report that I prepared late last year delved into how the world of work is changing, the new jobs that are emerging, the skills that will be required, and how education needs to evolve to meet our changing needs.

To conclude I provided summary advice to individuals, families, and organizations on how to prepare for the future of work. Below is this section of the report. Click here to read the full report (12.4MB).

What you can do today

All change brings challenges and opportunities. Given the exceptional pace of change in the world today, no-one can expect a job for life or even a consistent role for many years. Everyone will need to consistently enhance their skills and move on to new roles to keep pace with the world. We can heed basic guidelines that will serve us and our livelihoods as we move forward.


Take the time to plan your future.
We all need to be our own futurists. In a busy world, we must carve out proper time to consider how our skills and our dreams will fit with an economy that is swiftly changing. We must work today to prepare ourselves for the jobs and opportunities of the future, transitioning from our past career to our future careers.

Carefully choose your expertise.
Our livelihood tomorrow will be shaped by what we study today. To stand out, we should aim to excel at one or two specific areas of work, at which we can become an ‘expert’. It is important to follow your passion, but also to consider whether the skills you are developing will still be valuable in 5, 10 or 20 years’ time.

Fuel your appetite for learning.
We all need to keep learning throughout our lives to keep ahead in this fast-changing world. Rather than this feeling like a chore, we need to make learning something we want to do. Discover what you most want to learn about, and design it to be as fun and social as you can.


Learn how to learn.
There is no more vital capability for the future than the inclination and ability to learn. Many children start to associate learning with tedium. They need to discover the joy of learning by focusing on what they love best, whether it appears useful or not, and actively develop the habits and routines that will allow them to apply their learning skills to any topic they choose.

Nurture human capabilities.
While specific skills in STEM and other areas will be in demand from employers, the most valued attributes will be personal capabilities such as adaptability, resilience, optimism, creativity, emotional intelligence and judgment. Learning skills is critical for children, developing into well-rounded adults is even more important.

Prepare for future jobs, not today’s jobs.
Careers advisors are one avenue to seek guidance when preparing for your future, however as we live in a constant state of change it’s also important to do your own research to consider whether careers you might pursue may still exist in decades to come, and where the new work of the future may emerge.

Foster a growth mindset
In a rapidly changing world, children as well as adults of all ages must understand that they can develop and increase their capabilities through study and perseverance. What we learn from our experiences is not what we are able to do, but how we can get
better at creating our own personal success.


Envisage your successful future organisation.
Today’s companies will fail if they simply try to eliminate some jobs and add others. Every single work role will change in the future, shifting to draw more on uniquely human capabilities. Becoming tomorrow’s successful organisation requires a clear vision of the skills and roles you will require, and planning how to transition your current team from where they are to where they need to be.

Design work to tap your staff’s potential.
As human capabilities come to the fore, organisations should aim to tap the broadest possible scope of their staff’s capabilities. In a flexible organisation, the best ideas and skills can come from anywhere, bringing out everything people can contribute. Well-designed collaboration will create outcomes that individuals could not achieve alone.

Hire for human capabilities, enable continuous learning.
Find people who are flexible, imaginative, empathic and hungry to learn. The best way to attract the most talented is to provide them the opportunity to learn continuously. Offer formal learning, but also design work so your staff develop their knowledge and skills every day.

Read more from the report.

Image: Kevin Dooley