Julia Gillard: Brave New World

The only certainty in the future world of work is that things will never be the same again, thanks to continued technological advancements. But, warns the keynote speaker at this year’s RCSA conference, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the state of global politics will also play a significant part in the way we do business.

As we strive to come to terms with rapidly evolving technology and what it means for the workplace, former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard cautions that geopolitical changes could have a significant impact on Australia’s employment sector.

Gillard will be a keynote speaker at this year’s RCSA conference to be jointly hosted with the World Employment Confederation on Queensland’s Gold Coast between October 30 and November 1.

Gillard is undoubtedly one of Australia’s most famous women, serving as Australia’s first female Prime Minister for “three years and three days for you to judge” as she writes in her book My Story.

“The world of work will profoundly change in the next 20 years and that will have huge impacts for those in the employment industry,” she tells The Brief.

She adds that AI, next- generation robotics and other innovations will render obsolete many of today’s job categories and create new ones.

“It is certainly true that the skills most valued in the future will be the uniquely human ones of creativity and empathy,” Ms Gillard says.

“Winning teams will be combinations of people and machines. Trying to understand these huge shifts will be vital for everyone, especially for those in the employment industry.”

While technology is expected to be the biggest business disruptor - and as Gillard points out, an opportunity - into the future, she warns geopolitical change will create its own challenges, which society and the economy will not be able to ignore.

“Profound changes in the international order are under way,” she says. “In a few words it is hard to snapshot these major trends.

“But put quickly, the growth of anti-globalisation sentiment in many democracies, including the US, and the continued rise of China is remaking trade policy and eroding the current international architecture, which reflects the power balances post World War II.

“All this has implications for long-term global economic growth, and the Australia economy, while resilient, is not immune from the impacts.

“Those in the employment industry will need to be constantly analysing the potential implications for the Australian job market.” Gillard now holds the role as the inaugural chair of the London-based Global Institute for Women’s Leadership and says disappointingly “much of what is being done today in businesses to increase gender equity and diversity is ineffective”.

“But the good news,” she adds, “is at the Global Institute for Women’s Leadership, in collaboration with others around the world, including fantastic people in Australia, we are building the evidence base to show what truly works to achieve change.”

The theme for this year’s World Employment conference is “leadership in a new world of work” and, for Gillard, success comes down to two simple ingredients: “having a clarity of purpose, then building great teams that share that sense of purpose”.

Personally, Gillard credits her own success and resilience to having her own “clear sense of purpose”.

“I was always very clear about my sense of purpose, why I was in politics and what I wanted to achieve for the nation while I was there,” she says.

“I think that sense of purpose sustained me and stopped me being buffeted off course.”

In her keynote presentation at this year’s conference, Gillard says she will be “teasing out the big trends” that will shape the future of work.

“Inevitably, day-to-day, our gaze tends to go to the immediate, to looking at the waves and working out how to ride them,” she says.

“But getting to grips with the future requires us to look at the tectonic shifts underneath.

“I will also be sharing some insights about leadership. Hopefully, along the way, we will get

to share some jokes and laughter too!”

Tickets for the conference, to be hosted this year by RCSA and the World Employment Confederation on the Gold Coast between October 30-November 1, are now available at rcsa.com.au.

Places are strictly limited.

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