10 January 2017

Higher education and business: a model for the future of Australia

The key to the future for both corporates and the higher education sector is the strength of young peoples and graduates. Young millennials are entering a world undergoing significant disruption. It’s this disruption, often fuelled by a rise of millennials in the workforce, which graduates will need to harness as they enter uncertain terrain.

Deloitte had the pleasure of working with the University of Sydney, supporting 10 students through their journey from university to corporate life. The program created by Deloitte aims to provide students with the chance to develop those skills that will enable them to operate in ambiguity. First, by allowing students to discover those issues that are fundamentally affecting business and Australia. Second, exploring those issues and quantifying their impact. Last, developing ideas that will meet those challenges head on, while creating opportunities for growth and strengthening Australia’s economic and societal future.

The main objective is for students to gain a greater understanding of and solve for real life business issues. The corporate program offers them the chance to push their capabilities and thinking, while gaining practical experience. These are the skills that will best equip them for their future – flexibility and adaptability. As the economy continues to change, and the workforce becomes more fluid, graduates will need to harness new ways of thinking to keep up with the rate of change; collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, cultural awareness and a global mindset are critical. Degrees in STEM, although attractive, will find it equally as necessary to develop expertise in these areas. As business continues to explore cognitive capabilities and robotic automation, students will need to incorporate skills that robots cannot emulate. Creativity is essential in that fight, enabling an environment that cultivates curiosity and development. Without these skills providing a new backbone for the economy and powered by new graduates, Australia will miss this transition.

Organisations should see this as a collective responsibility to transform modern Australia. To be in concert with those seeking to deliver change and excite our entrepreneurial spirit. 40-60% of jobs that exist today are likely to disappear over the next 15-20 years; with 65% of today’s students employed in jobs that are yet to be created. It’s a responsibility that will enrich both the organisations that meet the challenge and the students they support. As the nature of work changes and the environments in which work is conducted become more virtual, research and development will be essential. Young students will power much of the innovation in those spaces, where development will be equally beneficial to higher education and business.

At Deloitte, we believe we have a responsibility in cultivating young minds and leaders. Working alongside Universities, such as Sydney University, is essential if we want to tackle the wicked problems of today and tomorrow. These programs are the driving force for change, without them we will find it increasingly difficult to construct a common narrative of Australia’s future and ultimately get lost from translation to implementation. Young students are the key and we should seek to support them in unlocking their potential.

By Geoff Stalley, Senior Corporate Advisor, and Cliff Sandler, Senior Consultant IP Factory

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