Ryan Pousson (left) and David Chaseling, founders of ParaSpace. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Ryan Pousson (left) and David Chaseling, founders of ParaSpace. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

‘Industrial revolution’ to deliver 1m new Qld jobs

HALF of all jobs in their current form will be wiped out within the next 20 years, with those people to be replaced by computers, say the global tech experts who gathered in Brisbane for the QODE conference this week.

But, the conference, which showcased the world's best and brightest in technology innovation, predicted the future's not all doom and gloom, with Queensland positioned to be a global leader in what is being referred to as the "fourth industrial revolution."

Research by the CSIRO's Data 61 program shows 1 million new jobs could be created in Queensland by 2038, up 41 per cent on current levels - but only if government and big business can keep up.

Tech startup co-founders Ryan Pousson, 23, and David Chaseling, 25, represent Queensland's growing hub of young tech innovators, and their company ParaSpace uses virtual reality (VR) technology to provide workplace health and safety training for construction workers.

The pair say although companies are starting to see the potential of training their workers using VR, many are still lagging behind.

"I don't think government and big business understand the pace startups work at, it only took us two months to develop this (ParaSpace)," Pousson says.

"A common thing we've found is that people only see it (VR) as a marketing tool, and don't see all the benefits of what we're doing has."

Ryan Pousson (left) and David Chaseling, founders of ParaSpace. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Ryan Pousson (left) and David Chaseling, founders of ParaSpace. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

Pousson and Chaseling are a part of the University of Queensland's ilab program, which helped them find their feet with a $20,000 grant and six months of office space.

The pair have done trials of their technology over the last couple of months with Brisbane-based Registered Training Organisations, and say they came to the conference with the hopes of catching the eye of major companies who can implement VR training into their business models.

"It (their program) provides the ability to train staff without them injuring themselves, without needing supervision from a trainer, without needing super expensive equipment," Pousson says.

"We want to be able to scale nationally as soon as possible, because there's no reason why this should be localised to Brisbane."

According to Israeli academic Dr Yuval Dror, who was a keynote speaker at QODE, ParaSpace is the kind of technology the government should be investing in so that Queensland can stay ahead of the curve.

 

Israeli academic Dr Yuval Dror. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner
Israeli academic Dr Yuval Dror. Picture: AAP/Steve Pohlner

 

"The World Economic Forum is saying by 2022, 75 million jobs will be eliminated and 133 million new jobs will emerge," Dror says.

"The entire world is investing billions of dollars in new technologies, in startups.

"They will go where the money's going, and if the government says 'we're going to invest millions of dollars in new technology' people will come.

Yuval told the conference around half of the world's jobs will either disappear or change over the next two decades.

"Nobody is waiting for anybody. You will be left behind if you don't invest."

The state government has ploughed more than half a billion dollars into innovation over the last four years, and announced plans to open new Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence hubs in Brisbane later this year as a part of its Advance Queensland strategy. But, how can businesses get ready for the brave new world? Research Director of the CSIRO's Data 61 program research director Dr Sue Keay, who also spoke at QODE, says businesses should follow the lead of mining giant Rio Tinto.

"Rio Tinto started by rethinking what an entry level job would be from a truck driver, to what they decided would be a field technician," she says.

"Then they worked in with TAFE WA to make sure they had the infrastructure required to get the training they needed to do that new role that hadn't existed in the past.

"We need to go through that process in every industry and (determine) what will the entry level jobs of the future be and how do we make sure people are well skilled to fill those jobs."

If there is one main takeaway from QODE it's that in a lot of ways, the future is already here.

But, the future for Queensland looks bright.

"The huge advancement of technology allows us to solve problems we've never been able to solve before," Dr Keay says. "A lot of these changes will increase prosperity, but a lot of how much we share in that prosperity will depend on how much we support these people to transition from the jobs of today into the jobs of the future."