The Future of the Queensland Workforce: learning, automation, skills

 Workforce in the future of work

The future of work is an evolving and critical issue for all Queensland businesses, both now and into the future. 

The research undertaken by CCIQ with the support of Australian Retirement Trust, identifies trends and changes businesses expect will impact them, and discusses strategies for how they can proactively get ahead to transform their workforce, workplace and work life to maximise long-term business opportunities and respond to emerging trends.

We looked into emerging and future trends that have the potential to change how we all work, as well as how business, industry and government may need to plan to remain competitive and resilient into the future

This article will focus on key workforce findings, that is the labour and skills required at work.


Technological advancement in the workforce


We saw workforce automation and technological advancements were a key trend for Queensland businesses and likely to change many aspects of the future of work. Future workforces will require more human interaction and customer service skills, as well as digital capabilities.  

As future skills continue to evolve, future workforce planning must focus on skills and tasks required, instead of jobs, thinking about those skills as a currency for future businesses and workforces.   

We expect core competencies, or ‘employability skills’ will be just as, if not more, important than technical skills.

Lifelong reskilling and retraining will be required  for all employees in the future.

51% of Queensland businesses we surveyed indicated moderate to critical impacts from automation in their future workforce. 

“We already use overseas contractors where it makes sense in the business. As automation options and technology/software improves, we will automate more and possibly migrate more work to contractors”

From a professional services micro business in the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region

70% also reported stronger digital skills requirements and communication skills would have moderate to critical impacts on the future of their business.  

“Our workers are unprepared to deal with the rapid changes in technology and the changing workforce. Our leaders are not used the level of collaboration and communication needed in managing a remote workforce… We have had to shift our focus to providing an attractive EVP and to get our leaders to buy into this is our biggest hurdle.”

From a shipping medium-sized business in Brisbane


human and customer service skills for employees 


Training and Reskilling


When we look at the workforce of the future, there are key elements that need to be considered now to ensure that businesses and their workforces are ready to take up opportunities. Lifelong reskilling and retraining will be required for all employees in the future, not only to recruit but to retain employees.

Businesses told us close to 70% of them consider upskilling and retraining staff will impact their future operations.

“Continuous expansion of programs and services delivered combined will require a higher qualification and commitment of staff as well processes to reduce burden of time-consuming tasks.”

From a not-for-profit in the Mackay-Isaac-Whitsunday region 

50% said their focus would be on attracting interstate and international workers, with more severe impacts on businesses outside the south east.  

 “The availability of suitable staff is an ever growing issue which was exacerbated by the Covid situation. There needs to be a coordinated focus on migration for staff but also on the next generation of migrants who come here to study first and then apply to remain.”

From an entertainment medium sized business in the Moreton Bay region


Working together for a better Business Future


To further enable the transition of skills for the current to future workforce, it is important for businesses and government to work together to design and ensure retraining and upskilling opportunities are fit-for-purpose and widely available for all business.  

Promoting new technologies and best business practices can greatly improve efficiency and productivity of the workforce to address future need. It means businesses need support for technological advancements to provide innovative workforce solutions.  

Indeed, through focus groups with industry leaders, a number of concerns were brought to light such as training programs in general not keeping up with practical needs of businesses and training delivery barriers for regional areas.


It is important to recognise regional Queensland faces unique and diverse challenges that require further support in the future, including ongoing regional workforce planning and supporting access to skilled workforces.  


The next step


There is no doubt skills and training will be the foundation for the future of Queensland workforce. Training will need to have job-ready outcomes, and be recognised for workforce mobility. Putting in place strategies and practical solutions now will ensure Queensland businesses have the workforces needed for the future. 

Read the full report to find future-focused actions you can undertake to prepare, as well as the findings and recommendations for future workplaces and work life in Queensland.

The Future of Work report is available here


training reskilling and retaining staff


Acknowledgement of Country

Business Chamber Queensland respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians of the lands from across Queensland and the Torres Strait. We acknowledge the Jagera and Turrbal people as the Traditional Custodians of Meanjin (Brisbane), the lands where our office is located and the place we meet, work and learn. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.