If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the old industrial model of place-based, 9-5pm work is not the only model to ensure productive, creative outcomes in business.

While many industries have suffered and will take time to recover, others have undergone a major transition where many workers will continue working from home permanently.

A key action in the Committee for Geelong’s 2019-22 Strategic Framework, the Future of Work aimed to support a new culture of leadership, develop agile mindsets, build capability and skills, and explore the impact of the creative industries sector. When COVID-19 hit, this area of action become even more important.

In October 2020, we hosted a week-long series of virtual public forums to explore the key issues in the Future of Work.  Some of the key out-takes from our assembled experts are important to share as we navigate and reconstruct our economy.

In our first webinar we heard from the 100 Jobs of the Future authors Professor Russell Tytler and Peta White. They shared that the new world of work will require cross-disciplinarity where:

  • Several people with specific skills will form collaborations to unpack solutions;
  • People using knowledge from multiple disciplines infused with technology will develop solutions with a need to collect and analyse data; and that
  • Creativity is a critical skill of the future.

Professor Iain Martin, Vice Chancellor Deakin University spoke of people who are vulnerable in our community and the need to support and connect or reconnect them with available job opportunities and foster aspirations to give people the confidence to learn new skills.

“What we’re looking for is good growth – growth that benefits the whole community and is both environmentally and economically sustainable.”

Phil Honeywell, the Principal at Newcomb Secondary College, shared the need to give career counsellors, parents and community groups better information and have a more community-based approach to supporting pathways into work.

“Work experience is critical in overcoming major barriers to moving into work, so we need to provide a higher range of quality outcomes through work experience programmes.”

We also heard from Dr Leone Wheeler, Hon. CEO from the Australia Learning Communities Network, who shared the concept of a ‘learning city.’ 

A learning city promotes lifelong learning for all and effectively mobilises its resources in every sector to promote inclusive learning from basic to higher education. It revitalises learning in families and communities, facilitates learning for and in the workplace, extends the use of modern learning technologies, enhances quality and excellence in learning; and fosters a culture of learning throughout life.

As Dan Nahum, an economist from the Australia Institute, stated in one of the virtual forums:

“We are facing more than just economic recovery. We are looking at economic reconstruction and we have the opportunity to build a new normal, and a better normal.

“Government intervention now is so important because we need to build a successful vibrant resilient mixed economy. We need sustained public infrastructure investment in green energy, transport and housing and we need a revitalised manufacturing sector.”

The Future of Work is one part of the puzzle in our post-COVID world. We need to explore these ideas about work and learning opportunities through the lens of a better way forward for our community – a newer, greener, more inclusive, sustainable, and creative future.

The Committee for Geelong is finalising an Action Plan based on this work and will be partnering with our members in the coming months to create a way forward.

To watch the Opening Webinar in the Future of Work series, please visit the Committee for Geelong’s YouTube Channel.

Jennifer Cromarty
CEO, Committee for Geelong

Image by Ryoji Iwara via Unsplash