How The New Work Order Will Affect Rehabilitation Counsellors


As the world of work continues to change and evolve, a new report from the Foundation for Young Australians has revealed that as many as 70 percent of the courses people under 25 are enrolled in today are for jobs that will not exist in the future. The labour market is changing - fast.

What Does This Mean For Our Clients?

On a global scale, the employment landscape is shifting under the pressure of advancements in connectivity and technology. Increases in automation, changes in work locations and hours, along with the outsourcing of jobs are deeply affecting the ways that Australians enter and maintain their place in the labour market. In many ways this is a good thing: the barriers to entrepreneurship are falling, enhanced work flexibility means greater participation, and access to a global market increases our opportunities to specialise.

But what of the downfalls? It seems that the occupations that help young people get their foot in the door, unskilled and entry level roles, are dying. This is a trend that will continue over the next 10-15 years. Income disparity is likely to remain an issue as demand increases for skilled workers. And with increased job flexibility, we often see less job security as more temporary, part-time or contract roles emerge.

Which Jobs are Changing?

Source: The New Work Order (Foundation for Young Australians)

Automation in particular will see many jobs lost to smart machines. Namely this affects tasks that are manual or routine: think secretaries, labourers, tradies and machinery workers. In the last 25 years, we have already lost 1,000,000 jobs to automation. So how do we respond to this?

On a policy level, there needs to be action to ensure that we:

  • Boost digital literacy through education and infrastructure.
  • Teach important skills such as problem solving, creativity and social intelligence.
  • Encourage entrepreneurship that is employment focused and outcome driven.
Image of receptionists at old switchboard. The Labour Market Continues to Change.

What about Rehab Counsellors?

While the skills required to be a Rehab Counsellor are in high demand, and will continue to be, I have no doubt that our profession will look very different in the future. In a compensable environment, insurers are always looking to minimise costs. It's likely that many aspects of vocational rehabilitation will be moved in-house by insurers and employers in a hope to avoid the expense of outsourcing to a qualified provider.

Moreso now than ever, we need to be able to respond quickly to a changing employment landscape that requires flexibility, digital literacy, problem solving and creativity - and help our clients to respond to this need as well.

In order for our profession to stay relevant, two specific things need to happen:

1) Real time, real-world awareness of the labour market:

Just take a look at ANZSCO. There are jobs there that don’t even exist anymore! We can't rely on outdated databases for information about what the world of work is really like anymore. It's time for Rehab Counsellors to step out of the shadows and reconnect with modern employers and businesses and educate ourselves about what the labour market expects from us and our clients TODAY. We can't argue that our clients need to be updating their skills if we refuse to do the same.

2) A shift in dialogue:

I mentioned above that in a compensable environment, where insurers pay our bills, there is always a desire to cut costs. And unfortunately, vocational rehabilitation is often seen as a cost drain.

How can we have better discussions with these stakeholders to help them understand that good rehab is the best investment they can make in a long-term outcome for their customers? I would love to hear your thoughts on this.