How to Prepare for Success: Expert Advice on the Future of Work

By Mia Casey

Guys, I’ve got something to tell you: you know the future of work? It’s here.

It’s actually happening right now, while you’re sipping at your perpetually full cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate to stave off the well-and-truly-here winter weather, and struggling through that essay or shuffling through your exam notes as Netflix summons from the other room.

How do I know it’s here? Well just last week UTS held a panel event to discuss this very topic. Entitled: UTS Big Thinking: The Future of Work is Now, the event brought a number of experts* together to discuss just what the future of work will look like – particularly in the face of emergent technologies and automation.

And oh boy did they have some tips. So, my friends: what can you do to stay successful in this new work landscape?

1. More skills in tech and data science

The world of work is getting techy, and so should you. Because, as Prof. Alexander pointed out: ‘If our workers don’t know or don’t understand… technology’ we just won’t be able to keep up with future innovation.

Industries are calling for technology-savvy employees, and people working in cloud computing or data science are some pretty key players in this employability game:

‘…there are highly, highly sought after skills in the area of data, software development, cloud computing… you can list off where the talent battlegrounds are going to be’

– Maile Carnegie (Group Executive Digital Banking ANZ)

So if you’re interested in expanding your technical skills, look towards data science and technology skillsets – industries are already asking for them.

2. Increased soft skills

Alongside the more technical skills employers are asking for, there’s also a renewed push for soft skills – things like interpersonal communication, creativity, problem solving, teamwork, initiative, and so on. These types of skills will be particularly useful in the future as, according to Prof. Alexander:

‘…we’re always going to need humans to be the interface between machines and society… to do that well you [will]… need to have really good interpersonal skills… [and] understand a lot about the algorithms that are being used’.

Now, these are all skills that you can (and should) be developing now through your studies, work, hobbies, and extracurricular activities. Unfortunately, a big issue many businesses are seeing from new graduates is actually a lack in these types of skills.

‘…self-management, and initiative, and follow through – just knowing how to appropriately conduct yourself in a work environment, is something that seems like there is – for some students – a gap.’

– Maile Carnegie

So if you really want to get ahead of the crowd, developing these soft skills early will prove a great help when you go to enter the workforce of the future, and give you the flexibility you’ll need to be successful throughout your career.

3. Focus on lifelong learning

I hope you like learning stuff, because you’re going to be doing it a lot throughout your career – if you want to be successful, that is.

As technology advances so quickly, it’s nigh on impossible for any degree to be able to prepare you for what the workplace will look like years from now. As Mark Scott (As Secretary of the NSW Department of Education), said via video: ‘We know that many of the jobs they’ll have, have not been created yet; they’ll use technology that’s not been created yet. So really, what we need students to have is the capabilities, the capacity… to keep on learning’.

There’s no way of knowing what new form of automation or piece of tech is going to swoop in and revolutionise the way we work, so it’s a good idea to make a mental shift towards lifelong learning now.

4. ‘Success’ is changing, so do what you love

Despite the big industry push towards students with data and tech skills, many are still flocking towards more traditional degrees such as business, banking, or law.

‘… they want to do accounting or they want to do law because there is a very definite job that they think is going to be there at the end. There actually may not, and they’d be much better off doing courses like [a Bachelor of Technology and Innovation]’.

– Prof. Alexander

For years, degrees in accounting and law were seen to be safe, sure-fire pathways to higher salaries, long careers, and achievable success for those who proved talented in such fields. However, industries and advancing technology are telling us that this is no longer the case, but society hasn’t caught up.

‘I think there is a failure for many Australians to understand the pace of change. And this belief that what was good for me and my generation is going to work in the future [is not true].’

– Maile Carnegie

So, if you’re looking at what you should study or what career path to take and your parents or friends are telling you to do something ‘safe’, have a real think before you agree. You may actually have a lot more success doing something else that you love!

And hey, as Sophie Hawkins (panellist, and Bachelor of Technology and Innovation student) said: ‘that just because there isn’t necessarily a job title currently for you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be the person who creates that one for yourself’.

Want to try something a little less traditional?



  • Master of Data Science: The first transdisciplinary data science degree offered in Australia, with this degree you can fill a global talent gap for people with data science knowledge.
  • UTS Open: Bite-sized lifelong learning. Skill-up with a 3 hr-long taster, from the likes of ‘Get ready for Blockchain’, ‘Cryptocurrencies’ and ‘Creating a Data Journey’.

*Event Moderator:

Professor Carl Rhodes (UTS Business School)


Professor Peter Flemming (UTS Business School)

Professor Shirley Alexander (UTS Deputy Vice Chanceller (Education & Students))

Sophie Hawkins (UTS 2nd year Bachelor of Technology & Innovation)

Maile Carnegie (Group Executive Digital Banking ANZ)


Author: Mia Casey

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