Atlassian paints dire future for workers in the face of automation


  1. Mike Cannon-Brookes told a Senate inquiry that if action isn’t taken by the Australian government to upskill and retrain people in the face of automation, the consequences are pretty grim for not only workers, but the future of the nation too.
  2. In its submission [PDF] to the inquiry, the local arm of Google estimated that 3.5 million Australian workers are at high-risk of being displaced by automation between 2015 and 2030, and said policies providing training and assistance to keep these people in the workforce could yield economic gains worth up to AU$400 billion.
  3. The co-founder and co-CEO of the Australian startup darling told the committee looking into the future of work and workers that the country is faced with three major challenges, with the first requiring the upskilling and retraining of workers likely to be displaced by automation.
  4. But the statistics are far from earth-shattering; the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) reported to the government in mid-2015 that more than 5 million jobs — almost 40 percent of Australian jobs that existed at the time — have a moderate to high likelihood of disappearing in the next 10 to 15 years, thanks to technological advancements.
  5. Echoing remarks he has made previously, Cannon-Brookes told the inquiry the nation’s technology graduates are highly desired around the world; however, given the lack of a local industry, “our best ship off overseas for better opportunities”.
  6. Atlassian chief Mike Cannon-Brookes has urged the Australian government to better plan for the automation era, telling a Senate inquiry on Tuesday that “hope is not a tactic”.
  7. Pointing to the country’s 457 visa changes, Cannon-Brookes said the action taken by the government has “damaged Australia’s reputation in the largest industry in the world”.
  8. In addition to teaching more STEM-related subjects at schools, Cannon-Brookes sees Australia’s lack of access to experienced, global talent as the single biggest factor constraining the growth of its technology industry.
  9. “I’d encourage you to think of Atlassian and companies like us in the technology industry as a case study of the future in the here and now,’ the co-CEO told the committee.
  10. According to Cannon-Brookes, to unlock the job-creating potential of tech companies in Australia, the country needs to change the way it thinks about skilled migration.
  11. “We need to learn from the past and focus on the upside of value creation and improved standards of living that technology will create, instead of perpetuating fear rhetoric around ‘robots taking our jobs’,” he added.


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