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How do we future proof our careers?

In this blog post, Dr Timothy Hsi, ACAP Lecturer in Counselling and trained Psychotherapist and Career Development Practitioner, gives his top three tips on how to future proof our careers. 

As the economy takes small steps towards a post-COVID19 world, it is becoming clear that the way we engage in living, working, learning and leisure activities have changed dramatically.

With many businesses affected by the various lockdowns and stalling of travel, we have witnessed how people all over the world adapt and discovered new ways to connect, communicate and collaborate.

Digital forms of communication suddenly became the main mode for many. The organisations, businesses and individuals who were ready with the relevant skills and processes took to the changes like ducks in water but others struggled at various degrees.

For every successful business that pivoted rapidly in the past year, at least two or three have floundered. The same is true for many individuals too. Those who were not able or prepared to shift in the changing work environment have found themselves under a huge amount of stress. The impact was partially cushioned by JobKeeper but with the wage subsidy program at an end, it is predicted at least another 150,000 people will now be added to the 5.8% of unemployed in Australia. The Black Dog Institute estimates that 25% to 33% of people will develop issues of anxiety, depression and other stress-related conditions arising from a pandemic such as COVID19 (Black Dog Institute, 2020). In my opinion, we will need to add another 20% to that number for individuals who were not sufficiently future-proofed for the rapid shift towards digitalisation in almost all aspects of our economy. 

So, in response to this, what should we do to future proof ourselves? I offer three tips for us to consider.

Think “Technology”

In 2016, a report by Ex-President Obama’s government stated that “demand for labour will likely increase the most in the areas where humans complement AI-automation technologies”. Technology is changing everything we do today. Even if your current work may not directly involve technology, it is a sure bet that some parts of it can and will be completed through an app or AI-enhanced equipment.

Not every one of us will have the capability or capacity to learn how to programme an app or write a machine learning code, but I believe all of us can adopt a future-oriented mindset where we are constantly looking to enhance our work through the adoption of new technology to our field of work. This way, instead of wallowing in the fear that AI and automation will ‘take over’ roles, we place ourselves in a position where we remain the drivers in implementing technology to enhance what we do.

Lifelong learning

Learning for skills development and relevancy to the constantly changing industries requires us to increase our ability to ‘learn how to learn’. Barbara Oakley, the author of ‘Mindshift’ declared that many people have made fantastic changes in their lives by keeping themselves open to learning (Oakley, 2017). Lifelong learning is not about going to school to study for a degree or obtaining a graduate certificate. It is about continually acquiring new skills and knowledge. These may be through participating in new projects, enrolling in a micro-credentialed short course or reading about new ways of doing things in your field.

Develop and constantly revise a career plan

A career can be defined as ‘the evolving sequence of a person’s work experiences over time’ (Gunz & Peiperl, 2007). What this means is that the roles (both paid and unpaid) in our career continually evolves over time. This evolution necessitates that we constantly update our career plan so it becomes a compass, continually pointing towards our ‘True North’.  Instead of letting the environment shape your career decisions, you take charge of planning your career path by making informed decisions based on information you gather about yourself.

Not sure where to start? Consider engaging in a conversation with a career practitioner. You will find some listed here.

More information:

  • Read Dr Timothy Hsi's biography
  • Watch Dr Hsi discuss the practical skills required to future proof our careers and the impact of the 4th Industrial Revolution as part of ACAP's Get Equipped Speaker Series



Black Dog Institute (2020). Mental health ramifications of COVID-19: The Australian context.
Gunz, H. P., & Peiperl, M. (2007). Handbook of career studies. SAGE publications.
Executive Office of the President. (2016). Artificial intelligence, automation, and the economy.
Oakley, B. (2017). Mindshift: Break through obstacles to learning and discover your hidden potential. Penguin.