Adapting to disruption: The role of libraries in the future of work

Future Libraries


By Iain Finlayson

The rise of artificial intelligence and a shift towards automation means that many jobs are changing. How do we prepare to thrive in the future of work?

According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, in about sixty per cent of occupations, approximately one third of the tasks could be automated by 2030. A March 2019 report by McKinsey on Australia’s automation opportunity estimated that 25–46 per cent of current work activities in Australia could be automated by 2030[1].

However, according to Laurence Liew, Director of AI Industry Innovation at the National University of Singapore, most jobs that will be automated are careers that people will not want. These could be menial, repetitive or even dangerous jobs.

Building skills for the future

If we get the shift to this new era right, the outcome could be fantastic. As the McKinsey report on the impact of automation on Australia indicates, the automation wave could lead to “a renaissance in productivity, personal income and economic growth”.

If countries like Australia set up their workplaces with more skilled, engaged and happier people, and make good choices about workers, work and workplaces, they stand to gain an economic boost in the region of $A36 billion[2].

But there are challenges to overcome. Automation will not replace humans, but it will demand that we adapt. According to Deloitte research, Australia already faces skills shortages across a range of key areas critical to the future of work, a situation that demands an urgent response from business leaders and policy makers. If we continue as we are, our national skills shortage will grow to 29 million by 2030[3].

The role of libraries in the future of work

Digital disruption is changing the future of work, but education providers can help prepare students by building the skill sets and knowledge they need to succeed in the careers of tomorrow. We firmly believe that a cornerstone of this effort requires ensuring that we’re unlocking knowledge, making learning accessible and improving the user experience of students across the country.

Schools, colleges, TAFEs, and libraries across the Asia Pacific region are starting to partner to introduce artificial intelligence into the management of their libraries, for example, transforming these learning resources to make them fit for the AI era.

Civica is helping to advance this goal, recently partnered with Microsoft to build cloud-infused library platforms that bring together unstructured data, images, video and audio into a searchable resource using the Spydus Library Management System. This is a game-changer when it comes to helping students access, research and understand learning resources that fall outside the typical ‘books and words’ of a library, giving them an important edge.

Stonnington Libraries, in Victoria, Australia, is among the first to use the technology. In the proof of concept, unstructured data was loaded into Microsoft Azure and was searchable within hours, in contrast to the weeks or months it would have taken without the partnership solution.

This shift empowers students to learn from sources that otherwise would not have been available to them. With this information at their fingertips, students can create deep, immersive projects and research papers, advancing on their journey towards the jobs of tomorrow.

By transforming users’ experience of our primary learning resources we can help prepare the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow.

By Iain Finlayson, Managing Director of Libraries and Education, Civica ANZ





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Education Technology Solutions
Education Technology Solutions has been created to inspire and encourage the use of technology in education. Through its content, Education Technology Solutions seeks to showcase cutting edge products and practices with a view to expanding the boundaries and raising the standards of education curricula. It introduces teachers and IT staff to the latest products, services and developments in education technology with a view to providing practical how-to guidance designed to facilitate the integration of those products and services into the school environment in the most productive and beneficial manner possible.

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