MIKE CANNON-BROOKES: Modern technology will reshape jobs, but it's the next generation that will hurt

Atlassian’s Mike Cannon-Brookes. Photo: Belinda Pratten/ Supplied.

Atlassian co-founder and co-CEO Mike Cannon-Brookes has a bone to pick with Australian policymakers: wake up.

Speaking at The Australian Financial Review Business Summit, he delivered a dire warning for politicians who choose to ignore the impact the digital revolution is going have on employment.

“The best way to deal with structural change and people fearing for their jobs is to stick your head in the sand and pretend it’s not going to happen … clearly that’s the best way to handle a strategic problem,” he joked.

“That’s a f—ing crazy way to handle it.

“We should be honest and empathetic and admit there are going to be a massive amount of jobs destroyed, there are going to be massive amount of jobs created,” he said.

“Are we ready for those jobs to be created, and are they going to be created here or somewhere else?”

Photo: David Ramos/ Getty Images

While he remained optimistic that new jobs will be created as others are lost, he made a point of saying that “the people who lose jobs generally aren’t the people who gain them”.

“Every major technology shift we have been through has created more jobs than it has destroyed,” he said, adding that “the people in those jobs today … will probably be retired. It’s their children that will suffer the pain.”

According to the Australian Financial Review, he doesn’t think the government has done enough to drive innovative change over the past year despite prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s “ideas boom”.

“Let’s just say the dreams a lot of people had a year ago have not materialised,” he said. “If anything, we have gone in the opposite direction in terms of the national dialogue.”

“It’s gone off the boil. We had a whole election where it basically wasn’t mentioned and both parties say it doesn’t win votes. Well, OK, I get that as a politician that’s kind of what you have to do, but as a leader of the country you have to do the opposite.”

The AFR has more.

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