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The Head Of PwC Australia Says Flexibility Is Critical For Young People Because ‘Whole Careers Are Vanishing Overnight’

Photo: Getty/Oli Scarff

As the digital sector grows, jobs that rely on older technologies are rapidly becoming obsolete.

According to the census, between 2006 and 2011 there were some occupations where the number of people employed across the country dropped by up to two-thirds in just five years – corporate services managers, for example, fell from 21,804 in 2006 to 7365 in 2011.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 1966, 46% of workers in Australia were employed in production industries. 30 years later, that proportion has diminished to 28%.

Luke Sayers.

Futurist Thomas Frey, author of “Communicating with the Future” and guest speaker at the TEDxReset Conference in Istanbul last year predicts that over 2 billion current jobs will disappear by 2030.

The head of PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, Luke Sayers, says that in this environment, being flexible is critical for young graduates as they start their careers.

In a recent post on LinkedIn, Sayers has written an article based on a question he is asked at this time every year, which is: What is your advice for young people who are finishing university and making their first career choices?

While he acknowledges it’s a difficult question because everyone has different interests, goals and priorities in life, Sayer has provided some guiding principles based his own experiences and observations about what leads to a successful and fulfilling career.

Here they are.

1. Know who you are and what you value.

What really motivates you? What differentiates you from your peers? You don’t have to have been at the top of your class – it could be a personal quality related to your beliefs, experiences or background. But ideally you will have an understanding of your strengths and play to them. There’s no point trying to force yourself into something that goes against your nature.

2. Try new things.

I was curious, and always wanted to do something a different way. Rather than supressing this quality and adopting the more risk-averse mind-set common in large organisations, I have tried to embrace this aspect of my personality. And it has served me well in a world that is constantly changing and where innovation is key to success.

3. Stay flexible and adaptable.

“In today’s environment it pays not to box yourself into any given career or skill-set. I know there is a lot of pressure to pick something solid and stable. But it’s important to stay flexible, open to new ideas, and willing to change and challenge yourself. Whole careers are vanishing overnight, and those who are unable to change are paying a heavy price. Try and instil in yourself a philosophy of continuous learning – never rest on your laurels.”

4. Start your own business.

“It doesn’t matter what it is or whether it’s successful. The lessons you learn through starting a business – about adversity, about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses – will be invaluable.

“If I were looking at two candidates wanting to work at PwC, and one had had a solid two years of professional experience at an accounting firm, and one had tried and failed to start a business, but could demonstrate what they had learned along the way, I know which one I would think had the richer and more valuable experience.

“Making mistakes, picking yourself up and starting again is what builds resilience and wisdom – incredibly important characteristics in today’s world.”

5. Just get started.

“Don’t focus too much on whether the field is the ‘right’ one for you this early in your career. My perspective is that no matter what you’re doing, if you are learning, having fun and being challenged – that’s a good thing. Try and be the best you can be. Pick something, give it a go, see if you get in the spirit and if it becomes a passion of yours. If it doesn’t – change horses.

“Above all, don’t be a victim to your choice. Keep checking in with yourself as you go along in a given job, and if you’re no longer challenged and start dreading your day in the office, take action to change it.

6. Don’t worry.

“There is a time in your life for stability, and a time for risk, and your twenties are unquestionably one of the times when it is ok to take some risks. So don’t be afraid to have a go at something different.

You can read the full post on LinkedIn.

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