Five million jobs - almost 40 per cent of the Australian workforce - likely won't exist in 15 years. Instead, of people filling those roles, various types of technology will take-over.

That is the forecast by the Committee for Economic Development of Australia and the trend is nothing new. You need only look at the self-serve checkouts at the supermarket, ATM machines and the range of goods and services you can buy online rather than dealing with people.

But as some jobs are taken over by technology, new ones will emerge.

So how do you know if a robot will take your job? What skills and knowledge will you need in the future? How do you prepare for jobs that don’t even exist yet?

It wasn't too long ago when people were taken on face value. Resumes and cover letters were hardly a necessity when applying for a job, let alone a qualification or experience. Today, and in the future, you'll need a broad range of skills, which will help you begin your career - no matter what field you enter.

Here is a list of the top 5 of many skills you can master at UOW, to prepare you for a career in 2020.

1. Adaptability/Flexibility

If jobs are changing - you need to change too. But don’t just adapt to what’s already happened, be ready for what's to come. An educator, for example, may have began teaching with books and blackboards but retired in the age of the Google, smart boards and laptops, which would have meant adapting to new ways of working.

UOW embeds this skill into its degrees and also offers Career Ready Learning, a subject that will help you understand how career opportunities are influenced by changing trends in the global workplace and Australia's labour market. So no matter what career you end up in, you will have the skills to not only adjust, but to lead in your profession.

Maddison Silk, who recently completed her Bachelor of Medical and Health Sciences at UOW, says she worked three different jobs while studying full-time.

"In my final semester I was also required to undertake an internship one day a week for my internship subject CRLP201. This workload completely challenged me and ensured I was able to be flexible when things changed, which happened a lot," she says.

2. Market Yourself (to the hidden job market)

When you think about "what you want to be when you grow up" it’s likely you won't just be competing with other people for the job – you might also compete with automated computers. This is where you'll be required to think outside of the box.

There are some skills and attributes technology can’t replace: creativity, empathy, emotion, negotiation and interpersonal skills and many more.

And in cases where a computer can do the job, you could be the one controlling it, the one inventing new and better ways of working or the one coming up with new jobs completely.

It's not only important to become analytical, tech savvy, creative, innovative and entrepreneurial during university – but it's important to learn how to use and market those skills to future employers or to break into the hidden job market, or into jobs that may not exist yet.

Maddison says she experienced this first-hand, after landing her first graduate job with a major global technology company, which was a little left of field.

"Specifically through CRLP201 I have learnt not only about what employers want but how to market myself in such a way that they see potential in me as an employee," she says. "I learnt how to create a resume specifically for a position, respond to selection criteria and write cover letters that highlight why I would be a great addition to the company in regards to transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and so on.
"Although I may not be considered a ‘perfect fit’ in regards to my qualifications, with the help of this subject I was able to market the skills I obtained from my other positions and studies so I was the preferred candidate over those with more relevant qualifications."

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[Maddison Silk. Picture: Paul Jones.]

3. Experience and industry knowledge

"Work Ready". It's a phrase that more and more employers are using and a trend that is likely to continue into the future. In addition to looking for someone who is qualified, employers also want someone with the necessary knowledge and experience to step straight into the job.

In fact, experience and industry knowledge are among the top skills employers look for - ranked second highest in a survey of 350 graduate employers.

Career Ready Learning and Practice is an opportunity to do an internship or industry project, to give students practical, real-world experience before finishing uni. This is a chance to apply your skills and knowledge you from your studies to a workplace.

It was through this subject Maddison was able to undertake an internship with a pharmaceutical company.

"I was fortunate enough to learn about the positions and opportunities available with pharmaceutical industry and I was able to get an inside look at not only the sales component, but the regulation and marketing components too," she says.

4. Communication (written and oral)

This always has been, and always will be a valuable skill in just about every profession. No matter what job exists in the future, you must be able to communicate on paper, through your resume and CV, to get an interview. Then you communicate during your interview to get the position, and again on the job through talking to people, writing reports, working in teams and in many more scenarios.

This skill is also the basis of your university degree, through working with teachers and other students, through exams, assignments and practical learning.

Bachelor of Creative Arts student at UOW, Eddi Raglus, says through assessments, feedback, speeches and presentations, her communication has improved during her time at UOW.

"I think through learning what employers are after in CRL100 and Career Central workshops, I've gained confidence in what I can offer employers and as a result feel more comfortable networking or reaching out via email, Linkedin and more - I see this as a huge communication improvement," she says.

"I also learned how to write and create a strong resume, which is essentially the backbone of job searching."

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[Maddison Silk and Eddi Raglus. Picture: Paul Jones.]

5. Teamwork and collaboration to solve problems

Whether it is a group assignment or a group of researchers, teamwork is at the heart of studying at UOW. Throughout your course you will be required to work with people to develop these skills, which will be useful in today’s and tomorrow's workforce. Whether you're creating your own job or entering one that exists, chances are it won't be a one-man-show.

Students can also step outside their degree and take on challenges such as the Univative Competition, where students interact with industry professionals and solve real business challenges in a team case competition.

Eddi says whether creating performance pieces or working on group assignments, she has been exposed to group work and collaboration in all of her subjects.

Maddison also found group assignments to be beneficial.

"They taught me how to not only dictate tasks and take the lead but also how to be a team player and let others improve their leadership skills," she says. "Due to differing personalities, conflict resolution techniques were also enhanced, along with communication skills. This semester I completed a group assignment for CRLP201 in which I worked really hard in order to motivate the team to pursue the best marks possible."

Stable full-time work is decreasing; part-time and casual work is increasing. Jobs still need inventing. Any work that is routine, repeatable or able to be done by a robot is at risk.

It seems like a grim outlook, but it doesn’t have to be if you learn to innovate, communicate, adapt and work with other people to overcome challenges.

To become a worker of the future, you will need to start building not just job-specific skills, but skills that can be applied to a range of careers which mightn’t have been invented yet.

When you study at UOW, you'll gain access to a whole range of workshops, including:

  • Resume Writing 101
  • Where are the Jobs? The Hidden Job Market
  • From Interview to Offer; Learn the secrets of successful interviewing
  • The Ins and Outs of Graduate Programs & Summer Internships
  • An Insider's Guide into Assessment Centres
  • The How to Guide on Answering Selection Criteria
  • Are you LinkedIn?