There is no denying that work and the workforce is undergoing a profound change. With the rise of digitisation, globalisation and collaboration, workforces are becoming more diverse and require an equally diverse skillset to succeed. No longer can young people expect to train for and establish themselves in one career over their working life. Instead, universities and career advisors now encourage young people to expect to have “portfolio” careers made up of a chain of employment across five or ten different areas of work. In order for Australia’s young people to prosper in this new environment, and in turn have an Australian economy and industry that can compete on the global stage, the transition from school to work becomes critical.
There has been a worldwide shift from an agricultural, to industrial, to service-orientated economic structure. This has resulted in a decline in demand for physical labour and craft skills, and a rise in demand for knowledge and interpersonal skills.3 Over the past five years, the Australian government policy in response to this workforce change is to advocate for the investment in “hard” or “technical” skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This was encapsulated in the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, which proclaimed that STEM was “Australia’s future”.4 However, research has found that the occupations most under threat are manual and routine tasks susceptible to automation. Conversely, opportunity for employment in jobs requiring skills that humans excel at, using non-routine interpersonal and analytical skills, is at an all-time high.5 Rather than discrete vocations, research has found that skills-based job clusters are the best way to conceptualise the new employment market.6 HASS graduates excel in the skills aligned with these more resilient areas of employment. DASSH is responding to this research by identifying the future workforce needs and the importance of HASS attributes in filling those needs. A preliminary report on how HASS graduates will enhance the workforce of the future has been produced. The findings provide useful data for school careers officers, guidance counsellors, and teachers in the value of post-school tertiary education in the HASS disciplines.