4 must-have skills for future generations

Students building things

By 2030, automation, globalisation and flexibility will have changed the working world as we know it. Thanks to technology, workers of the future will complete less manual tasks and spend more time focused on building relationships, solving strategic problems and thinking creatively.

It’s now estimated that future Australian workers will change employers at least 17 times, across five different career areas, in their lifetime.

The Foundation for Young Australians has analysed 20 billion working hours completed by 12 million Australians each year between 2000-2015 to give us an insight into how best to prepare young people for a multi-career future.

At Charles Sturt University, we’re across it. Through our industry-aligned academics, we’ve been able to tap into emerging workplace trends to invigorate our courses so we produce future-ready graduates.

To help you prepare your students, we’ve put together our top four must-have skills for future generations.


We don’t need to tell careers advisers that science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines are the way of the future. Schools have recognised the growth in this area and we’re seeing it come through in innovative classrooms around the country. The good news is that by encouraging STEMM, you’re paving the way for students to make a successful transition to a range of degrees.

STEMM is important for students because future jobs will require problem-solving skills, innovative and creative thinking, and digital skills. Future generations need to learn how to think critically and flexibly in order to adapt to this changing world.

Currently, STEMM skills are in high demand, yet in short supply. Rapid changes in technology mean that a STEMM-driven job market is now upon us and Australia is unable to meet the demand. There’s never been a better time to encourage your students to explore the STEMM disciplines. You’ll be futureproofing their careers.

If you can pique your students’ interest in STEMM during high school, their future career prospects will be on track. Half the battle with school students is dispelling the myth that STEMM subjects are just for boys. Statistics from Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) show that women and girls are underrepresented in STEMM high school subjects, degrees and jobs, with many organisations pushing hard for gender equity and diversity in this area.

2. Hands-on experience that complements theoretical learning

It’s a question constantly asked by graduates who haven’t found work yet: “How am I supposed to gain experience if I keep getting turned down for not having any?”

In today’s society, it’s an expectation that university graduates will enter the workforce armed not just with knowledge, but also hands-on experience.

At Charles Sturt, that’s what we’re known for. We give more than just the theoretical foundations for careers. Our students start their career from day one, learning in state-of-the-art labs or health clinics; in simulated nursing wards, courtrooms or classrooms; out in the field in vineyards, farms or equine centres; or with industry placements in city or regional areas.

And that’s one of the reasons why we have the highest graduate employment rate in the country – because our grads enter the workforce confident, highly skilled and job-ready.

3. Becoming a lifetime learner

To succeed in the future workforce, young Australians will need to become lifelong learners.

In the future, employees will be encouraged to dip their toes into different skill areas and have a baseline understanding of a variety of concepts and technologies – even if they’re not using them directly in their day-to-day working environment.

Commitment to lifelong learning does not necessarily mean undertaking a bachelor’s degree every time a person changes career paths. There are other options available.

Charles Sturt offers a flexible study option for those wanting to commit to lifelong learning and explore different subjects and skills, without committing to a full degree. Single subject study allows students to pick up individual subjects of interest and complete a bite-size portion of a degree. It’s quite smart actually; the students get to expand their knowledge base and will be credited for the subject if they decide to study the full degree.

4. Creativity

It’s important for young Australians to start honing their creativity from an early age.

One of the biggest predictions about the future of work is that the global economy will be mostly made up of creative output. Industries that have a ‘human touch’ like advertising, arts, design, music and publishing will be left mostly untouched by automation and artificial intelligence (AI). Imaginative solutions will drive technology advancement to deliver humanised and personalised solutions in these areas – and because creativity can’t be replicated by robots (yet), employees with this niche skill will be highly sought after.

At Charles Sturt, we encourage our students to think outside the box and dream up innovative solutions to any problem they face. Whether it’s wrestling with a complex agricultural solution or competing in a nationally recognised marketing communications competition, our courses encourage students to use their imagination and hone their creative skills.

Interested in learning more about the future of work? Check out our Future of Work blog series.