Eleven impacts of technology for APS applicants to consider

Much has been written about the impact of technology on jobs. The Australian government has expressed ambitious goals for a digital economy. Multiple digital strategies have been released for specific industries, such as low emissions, freight, infrastructure manufacturing, and agriculture. The APS has been building digital skills. What are some of the implications for job applicants?

Eleven implications are:

  1. The need to understand the government’s overall objective as stated in the Digital Economy Strategy 2030 and its potential relevance to any role applied for:

“By 2030, Government service delivery will be frictionless and integrated with technology making life easier. The Australian Government will lead in the efficient, trusted and secure delivery of services to Australians online. Data will be used in the design of policies and services to better target them to the needs of Australians. Business and citizen interaction with government services will be seamless and driven by customer experience. Service delivery will be supported by protections of public data and smart, adaptive and digitally-enabled regulation. Improved ability to use data to understand complex issues allows for better decisions and more targeted programs for all Australians.”

2. New jobs are created in response to these issues, such as jobs in cyber security and the application of new technology to existing fields (e.g. drones, data analysis). Any new job needs to be understood in terms of why it has been created, how it fits into the existing structure, how it relates to strategic direction, and what progress has been made in establishing any structural changes.

3. Changes in technology mean new policies are needed or existing policies adapted, such as privacy reform, cyber security, and consumer rights. For policy roles, this may mean thinking more broadly about issues.

4. Applicants may need to be aware of existing and new strategies, reviews, inquiries, programs, new legislation, grants and frameworks, and how they are relevant to their role. Internal applicants may be aware of these developments but may not consciously realise their significance. External applicants may need to conduct research to fully understand the context of a role.

5. Existing jobs, such as HR, marketing, finance, may change to incorporate technology applications and the use of data. Applicants may need to expand their skills and knowledge, and be able to explain their relevance and value.

6. More senior jobs may require an understanding of technological issues even though they may not be directly technology-related. In assessing strategic risks, including ones that may seem beyond the scope of a current role or organisation (such as country borders becoming less binding for trade), greater understanding of technological risks, including cyber security, may be needed.

7. As explained in the Digital Economy Strategy 2030, many roles are relevant to the digital economy, including infrastructure, services and regulation. Few jobs, if any, will be free from the use of, and/or, application of, technology to their own work or to the subject matter of their work.

8. The increased complexity of issues means inter-agency and inter-jurisdiction collaboration needs to be considered. Communication and interpersonal skills are important, including negotiation, influencing, persuading, resolving differences and winning cooperation.

9. In building staff capability, managers and team leaders need to consider digital and data skills. The APSC is responsible for the APS Data Professional Stream and the APS Digital Professional Stream.

10. In thinking about one’s professional development, applicants need to keep an eye on how their job may be affected by technology and start building the relevant knowledge and skills. The key technologies the Digital Economy Strategy 2030 focuses on are: artificial intelligence, internet of things, data analytics, blockchain, and quantum computing.

11. For technology-related roles, the ability to explain digital and data issues and their application, to people who lack their expertise, will be essential. A role requirement such as ‘Excellent communication skills and the ability to influence and manage people’ may seem to be one amongst a list of requirements, most of which may be technology-related. However, no amount of technology expertise will matter if a person is unable to meet the human demands of the role.

Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.