Future of Working: Technology and AI Roundtable – 11 August 2023

The Australian Council of Professions hosted an informative and thought-provoking Roundtable on 11 August. Facilitated by our Chief Futurist, Dr Simon Eassom, the Roundtable focused on technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI), exploring how professions and the work professionals do might change as digital technologies and AI transform the future of work.

Professor Peter Dawkins AO

Professor Peter Dawkins AO, Director, Jobs and Skills Australia (JSA), and Natasha Yemm, Assistant Secretary, Domestic Skills System, Jobs and Skills Australia provided an overview of the JSA’s functions with a core feature being the identification of Australia’s current, emerging and future labour market, skills and training needs.

The presentation highlighted recent work in identifying occupations projected to be most impacted by automation in the future, with Dressmaking, Clothing Patternmakers and Sewing Machinists featuring in the top three. Meanwhile, Ministers of Religion, Educational Psychologists and Nurse Educators are projected to be the occupations least impacted by automation. It was noted that occupations predicted to be the most automated in the future, will be the occupations with the least growth.

Natasha Yemm

The JSA’s research examined how advancements in AI and Generative AI have the potential to disrupt the labour market and augment work tasks that were previously not automatable by available technologies. One of the ways the JSA is doing this is by using AI in the process of developing content and metadata to better analyse and describe the Australian Skills Classification as it relates to Core Competencies which identifies the interconnectedness between skills and jobs. The JSA is undertaking a review of the Core Competencies and in doing so are considering multiple approaches. One approach is generic, which is removing occupation specific language, and the other is workstyles, which involves the creation of multiple sets of anchor values with industry or work style specific examples.

Through a tri-partite engagement between the Consultative Forum, State and Territory Working Group, and Jobs and Skills Councils, JSA provides evidence-based advice on Australia’s skills needs and the adequacy of the skills system in meeting those needs.

Anne Younger

Anne Younger, General Manager – Policy and Projects, Ai Group Centre for Education and Training, provided key findings from the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report, which had Ai Group as the Australian survey partner.

The report, representing 803 companies globally and 11.3 million employees, targeted C-Suite executives and sought to understand the macro-trends and their impact on the workforce, skills and the strategies businesses intend to use over the 2023-2027 period.

The report identified the key drivers of business transformation and ranked them as likely or increasingly likely in the next 5 years. Increased adoption of new and frontier technologies (86.6%) and Broadening Digital Access (86.1%) were identified as the most likely drivers. The report found that technology is not only expected to be a major job-displacer but also a creator of new jobs in the next 5 years.

The survey explored the level of skill disruption expected over the 2023-2027 period and found that employers are expecting an easing in labour market churn, with 56% of core skills expected to remain stable.

Surprisingly, however, the survey found that 6 in 10 workers will require some form of training before 2027. Business strategies to meet skills shortages will require training of existing workers and an acceleration of automation processes.

Overall, the findings indicate that Australia looks resilient and well positioned to meet the challenges predicted in the next 5 years.

Jill Lawrence

Jill Lawrence – Senior Policy Advocate, Chartered Accountants, Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), and Dr Catriona Lavermicocca, Head of Teaching and Learning, CA ANZ provided insights into how CA ANZ members are embracing Generative AI, particularly in teaching and learning programs and Continuous Professional Development (CPD). Key considerations have been the skills of learners to adopt AI, ethical issues including the reliability of data, and the skills of staff to employ technology and AI.

Dr Catriona Lavermicocca

CA ANZ members are utilising AI for the generation of “friendly content” such as generation of emails, templates and standard documents. The benefits for members have been immense with the focus on “sense checking” the output and personalising documents.

Roundtable Discussion

ACoP members and attendees explored issues related to ethical standards in the use of technology and AI. Discussions also explored the focus of education in the future and the need for it to concentrate on higher level skills as knowledge is increasingly digitised as well as the implications of this for the higher education sector.

Discussions noted he current review of higher education through the Australian Universities Accord, is exploring the role of the higher education sector in the development of skills. Disruption and technology, Generative AI, how universities will need to adapt to new technologies and how graduates will be best prepared with the skills needed for the future will be key themes in the final Universities Accord. The intersection between Vocational Education and Training (VET) and Higher Education (HE) will need to be far more effective to enable a forward-thinking ecosystem to meet the AI challenges of the future.

The discussion concluded with a consensus that in order to address the skills shortages of the future, Australia needs to increase the participation of equity groups in higher education. Technology will be key in enabling the success of more diverse groups participating in higher education in the future.

We look forward to convening future forums for our members and leaders of industry and exploring the impact of technologies on the professions and the way professionals work. In case you missed previous communications on this topic, you can locate these interviews with experts Dr Simon Eassom and A/Prof Klaus Veil on our website.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Justine Romanis

Justine Romanis

Our third segment of this special series sees our head of diversity, culture and inclusion, Angelina Pillai sitting down with Justine Romanis from Engineers Australia (EA). Justine leads EA’s professional diversity and STEM program which places inclusion and equity at the heart of their initiatives.

What does equity mean to you?

Diversity can’t exist without inclusion. Everyone needs to feel included, that they all have a voice and that their voice can be heard.

Equity to me is about looking at individuals, not the workforce as a whole, because the workforce is made up of individuals, who come in all different ‘sizes’ and they all start from a different place.

So, equity is about giving everyone the same opportunity at the same level yet recognising that it will be different for different individuals.  

How are issues of gender, neurodiversity and First Nations’ relationships celebrated/addressed in your professions, through your professional association?

The four areas of diversity that we concentrate on are:

  1. Gender – largest employer of all STEM professions with the lowest participation rate of women
  2. Migrants – 60% of engineering workforce is born overseas
  3. LGBTQA+
  4. First Nations

This is not to say that other areas of diversity are less important, it’s just that at present, this is what we are focussing on, and ensuring that we do it properly.

We are currently in a war for talent, and in engineering specifically, we have a critical shortage of talent. So, addressing these issues is really important for people’s consideration when they are moving into an organisation. It speaks to business, and it makes good business sense for organisations to be publicly supporting and actioning diversity and equity policies and initiatives to attract the best talent.

Gender diversity

Gender is a huge focus for the engineering profession. For example, there is only 13% female participation. Engineering is the largest employer of STEM professions, yet it is the poorest performer when it comes to female participation. This has been identified by Government and by the Chief Scientist who has singled out engineering from the STEM 2020 workforce report. So, as a profession, we have a lot of work to do; and so, we do a lot of work in this space.

At EA we celebrate gender in many ways, such as International Women’s Day and International Women in Engineering Day. These events are very well attended, and the engagement is high.

Romilly Madew (CEO, EA) is part of the Champions of Change Coalition, which is all about supporting gender. Internally at EA we have revised our parental leave policies and we’ve encouraged our male team members to take up parental leave. We also do quite a bit of analysis on the gender pay gap.

EA did research into the barriers to employment for migrant engineers, the report launched in late 2021. Female migrant engineers have 3x the unemployment rate as their Australian born counterparts. When we are an industry that is struggling to attract women, we have very low proportions of women. We developed the Global Engineering Talent (GET) program which was based on the barriers that we identified through the research such as local experience, technical terminology, and Australian Standards knowledge and developed the GET pilot to get them up to speed on all those aspects.

EA is committed to ensuring we maximise the engineering talent we have here, through encouraging more women to enter and stay in the engineering profession and increase employment outcomes for our migrant and refugee engineers.  

First Nations and Reconciliation

EA’s Indigenous-led outreach program

This has been a long journey for EA. We have an Indigenous Engineers Group that was developed under our College of Leadership and Management. This group was responsible for our Board endorsed support for the Uluru Statement from the Heart in 2019.

EA is also in the process of developing our Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) which we will be announcing this later this year. EA is already active in supporting First Nations and Reconciliation, so a RAP is a logical next step for us in demonstrating our commitment. We have also partnered with Engineers Without Borders on an Indigenous Engineering Education program, that is uniquely completely led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The pilot has just been completed and we are reviewing the learnings currently.


At this stage, externally it is not on our radar for the profession, however that will slowly shift based on capacity to focus on this area. Internally, our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Council have identified neurodiversity from a staff perspective, so we are likely to see traction within the next twelve months.  

Ultimately, all of these issues around diversity are brought back to the equity piece. Whilst there is talent around and they are all going to contribute equally to the success of the organisation, they will all need different levels of support from the organisation to ensure that they are able to contribute their true value.   

In your view, what is the obligation of professionals to improve/support the following across professional landscapes and the professions in general? How do/can they do this?

Engineers are bound by the Code of Ethics, which includes educating oneself, listening, learning and respecting others. That includes supporting and encouraging diversity, including First Nations and other forms of equity. As a peak body, EA’s role is to provide educational information and as a membership of individual professionals, it is about actively seeking out and participating in that information and being well educated across these areas.

Workplaces are changing and it’s one’s responsibility to be embracing and driving those changes and working alongside their professional association to do this.

How do you measure diversity, equity and inclusion in your organisation?

Targets and measurements are critical in any organisation. Diversity and equity should not be any different. For example, around 2018, EA set a target to achieve 30% female representation on all our national boards and committees by 2020. At the time, we were sitting on 17%. We achieved this target by 2019, and now we are sitting over 36% by putting in the effort and commitment.

Other measurements include reporting to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) on gender and pay matters and we run a People Pulse quarterly staff survey which measures against inclusion and equity metrics.

I think once we get a more balanced workplace, other things stem from that. There will be more balance in different areas such as the pay gap, less bullying and sexual harassment, effective parental leave practices and we can start to change the dynamic of the entire workplace.

Eventually, if everything was equal and equitable, there wouldn’t need to be a role like mine!

How would you like ACoP to support this agenda for your professional association?

Shared knowledge from other professional associations is really critical. Having sessions on certain topics and what their learnings were would help significantly. Learning from others’ mistakes is really helpful and powerful. ACoP, with multiple Member Associations can help facilitate these conversations.

The Future of Working – Interview with Klaus Veil

Klaus Veil

In the lead up to the Future of Working Roundtable, our Head of Education and Employability, Lynette Harris has been exploring the future impact of AI with leading experts. This interview features ACoP President Klaus Veil, who – assisted by AI – posits some interesting thoughts into what this means for professional associations.

1. As AI and technology continue to transform the way professionals work, how will that impact the professional associations that represent them, how can they prepare for these impacts and what role can they play in shaping the future of their member professionals?

The ongoing transformation brought about by AI and technology will undoubtedly have a significant impact on Australian professional organisations and the way they operate. Here are some potential ways in which these associations might be affected:

  • Skills Development and Training: Professional organisations will likely need to evolve their training and skill development programs to keep up with the changing landscape. As AI and technology introduce new tools and methodologies, these associations will need to offer members opportunities to up-skill and re-skill in relevant areas.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Technology will continue to facilitate networking and collaboration among professionals. Professional organisations may need to intensify their efforts to migrate to digital platforms and virtual events to ensure members can effectively connect and exchange ideas, as their modus operandi has moved away from ‘in person’.
  • Knowledge Sharing: With the rapid advancement of AI and technology, staying up-to-date with the latest developments becomes even more crucial. Professional organisations will need to ensure their timely curating and disseminating of relevant information, research, and best practices to their members through online delivery.
  • Ethics and Standards: As AI and technology raise ethical and regulatory concerns, professional organisations need to establish guidelines and standards for their members to follow, including AI ethics, data privacy, and responsible use of technology.
  • Representation and Advocacy: Professional associations often advocate for their members’ interests in government policies and regulations. With the rise of AI and technology, these associations might need to be more proactive in leveraging emerging technologies to do this.
  • Diverse Membership: AI and technology have the potential to attract professionals from a more diverse range of backgrounds, including ability/disability and neurodiversity. Professional organisations may need to be more inclusive and adapt to the needs of that more diverse membership that not only includes technologists, data scientists, and AI experts but also these professionals.
  • Virtual Events and Conferences: AI and technology can enable engaging virtual events, webinars, and conferences. Professional associations need to embrace these tools to provide meaningful experiences for their members, when in-person gatherings are increasingly limited.
  • Credentialing and Certification: As new technology-related roles emerge, professional associations might need to create new credentialing and certification programs to validate skills and expertise in AI and related areas. 
  • Employment Landscape: AI and automation will lead to shifts in the job market and changes in employment patterns. Professional associations should provide guidance and support to members navigating these changes, including assisting with career transitions.
  • Operational Efficiency: The adoption of technology could help professional organisations streamline their internal operations, manage their memberships, handle communication more effectively, and offer online resources to members.

Overall, Australian professional organisations will need to be agile, forward-thinking, and adaptable to the changing landscape driven by AI and technology. By embracing these changes and leveraging the benefits of technology, these associations can continue to provide value to their members and play a vital role in shaping the future of their respective professions.

2. How can we ensure that AI and technology are used ethically by professionals?

Ensuring ethical use of AI and technology by Australian professionals requires a multi-faceted approach that involves education, guidelines, regulations, and ongoing vigilance. Here are some key steps that can be taken:

Education and Awareness

  • Provide comprehensive training and education about AI and technology ethics to professionals across various industries.
  • Raise awareness about the potential ethical implications of AI and technology, including bias, privacy concerns, and unintended consequences.

Ethical Guidelines and Codes of Conduct

  • Professional associations and regulatory bodies should develop clear and comprehensive ethical guidelines and codes of conduct specific to the use of AI and technology within their respective industries.
  • These guidelines should address issues such as data privacy, bias mitigation, transparency, and accountability.
  • Independent ethics review boards should be established to assess the ethical implications of new AI and technology initiatives before their deployment.
  • Anticipate and plan for the long-term ethical implications of AI and technology, including potential job displacement, economic shifts, and societal impacts.
  • Collaborate with international organisations, governments, and experts to share best practices and ensure a global approach to ethical AI use.

Regulation and Compliance

  • Collaborate with government agencies to establish and enforce regulations that govern the ethical use of AI and technology.
  • Create mechanisms for compliance monitoring and reporting unethical practices.

Transparency and Accountability

  • Professionals and their organisations should be transparent about how AI and technology are being used, the algorithms employed, and the data sources utilised.
  • Mechanisms for accountability in case of unethical use or harmful outcomes need to be established.

Bias Mitigation and Fairness

  • Implement processes to identify and mitigate bias in AI algorithms and technology systems.
  • Regularly audit AI systems to ensure they are fair and do not display any unintended and/or inappropriate bias.

Data Privacy and Security

  • Adhere to strict data privacy standards and regulations to protect sensitive information.
  • Implement robust cyber-security measures to safeguard against data breaches and unauthorised access.

Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

  • Foster collaboration between professionals from different disciplines (e.g. technology, ethics, legal, etc.) to ensure a holistic approach to ethical considerations.

Continuous Learning and Adaptation

  • The landscape of AI and technology is constantly evolving. Professionals need to engage in continuous learning to stay updated on the latest ethical guidelines and best practices.

Public Dialogue and Engagement

  • Engage in open and transparent discussions with the public to gather input on AI and technology use, especially in areas that impact society at large.
  • Involve stakeholders from various backgrounds to ensure a diversity of perspectives.

Whistleblower Protection

  • Implement mechanisms to protect individuals who raise concerns about unethical AI and technology practices within their organisations.

3. Will there be a role for professional associations in the future?

There is likely to be a continued role for professional associations in Australia’s future, although their roles and functions might evolve in response to changing societal, technological, and economic dynamics. Professional associations have historically played a crucial role in fostering collaboration, setting standards, providing education, and advocating for their members’ interests. While the landscape is evolving, here are some ways professional associations could remain relevant in the future:

Education and Skill Development: As industries continue to change due to technological advancements, professional associations can adapt their education and training programs to offer members the skills and knowledge needed to excel in the modern workforce. This might include specialised training in emerging technologies, digital literacy, and soft skills.

Ethics and Standards: Professional associations can continue to play a role in establishing and maintaining ethical guidelines, codes of conduct, and industry standards. This is particularly relevant in fields impacted by AI, data privacy, and other technology-related challenges.

Advocacy and Representation: Professionals will still benefit from having a unified voice to advocate for their interests in policy decisions, regulatory frameworks, and industry-specific issues. Professional associations can leverage their collective influence to shape discussions and ensure that the needs of their members are considered.

Networking and Collaboration: Professional associations can continue to provide the essential opportunities for members to connect, collaborate, and share experiences, which can be especially important for cross-industry learning and innovation.

Credentialing and Recognition: As new roles and specialisations emerge, professional associations can provide certifications and credentials that validate skills and expertise, helping members stand out in a competitive job market.

Research and Knowledge Sharing: Professional associations can curate and disseminate industry-specific research, best practices, and insights, fostering a culture of continuous learning among members.

Support During Technological Transition: Professional associations can offer guidance and resources to help members navigate the challenges and opportunities presented by technological shifts, including job transitions and changing industry landscapes.

Community and Mentoring: The sense of belonging to a professional community can be highly valuable. Professional associations can facilitate mentorship programs and provide a space for experienced professionals to guide and support those newer to the field.

Adapting to Virtual Environments: Professional associations can embrace digital tools to enhance their offerings, such as hosting virtual events, webinars, and online resources, making it easier for members to engage regardless of their location.

Addressing Societal Issues: Professional associations can play a role in addressing broader societal challenges, such as diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and ethical use of technology.

While the specific roles and functions of professional associations may shift, their ability to adapt, innovate, and cater to the evolving needs of their members will determine their continued relevance in the future Australian landscape. By staying responsive to changing trends, embracing technology, and maintaining a strong focus on the needs of their members, professional associations can continue to play a vital role in supporting and advancing various industries and professions.

Note: To illustrate the capability of AI, Klaus asked ChatGPT to draft these interview answers and then edited them for clarity.

The Future of Working – Interview with Simon Eassom

Dr Simon Eassom

In the lead up to the Future of Working Roundtable, our Head of Education and Employability, Lynette Harris is conducting a series of thought-provoking interviews with leading experts exploring the future impact of digital technologies and AI. Our first interview features Chief Futurist, Dr Simon Eassom who shares his insights on this topic.

1. The end of the professions has been predicted for some time; is AI now that final nail in the coffin?

Claims that the professions will become irrelevant sooner rather than later are premature and have largely focused on disruptive trends and how they will impact the demand for service from dedicated professionals. Accounting and law are easier to disrupt, in that regard, than (say) engineering. The main driver of that disruption has been the increase in software tools and applications that increase self-service capability. In addition, the growth in social media and user networks has meant greater dissemination of information that might previously have only been available via a professional consultation. For example, pet owners can and do seek information from members of their breed community before determining that a trip to the vet is necessary. Will AI accelerate that ‘self-service’ capability and further take business away from professionals? The rise of ChatGPT certainly gives us food for thought but comes with caveats around the trust-worthiness of what open AI tells us. Whilst AI tools are able to trawl huge volumes of data from multiple and disparate sources and do our research for us, the outputs of those investigations are only as good as the information available via the internet. Much professional information isn’t digitised and publicly available. Meanwhile, AI will be an invaluable aid to professionals, giving them increased efficiencies and faster access to information (eg, legal clerks accessing case law and tort). The question of whether AI bots and virtual agents will replace professionals will ultimately come down to matters of trust: the majority of customers still see a professional is a trusted source and somebody able to translate complex information into actionable advice and directions.

2. How much of the talk about AI impacting the professions is hype and how much is reality?

There is no doubt that the reality of AI is here now and previous claims about the capability of AI might have been over-hyped but things move fast in the technology space; exponentially fast. The capability of AI tools will only grow. The impact on the professions will depend on two things: (1) the adoption of AI and specific APIs by professionals themselves to focus on providing greater, faster, cheaper service to clients; and therefore (2) the drive to disrupt the professions from within. That is, there will be commercial imperatives for some professionals to adapt and transform their services that will come at the expense of other professionals who don’t keep up with technological change. Ultimately, this might transform the profession itself. Meanwhile, this is no longer hype. Reality is here.

3. If AI makes us all “experts”, what does that mean for professional expertise?

The question of expertise is an interesting one. We defer to experts because of their extensive understanding of a topic gained through knowledge acquisition (study and qualifications), research, and experience with the area in question in large part because gaining such expert knowledge is not feasible for all of us and requires dedication to that specific realm or domain. AI will certainly transform knowledge work as access to knowledge will no longer remain solely with the professional. But does access to knowledge make us experts? Experience plays an irreplaceable role in expertise and exposure to and familiarity with specific issues is difficult to replace. However, where diagnosis and determination can be made based on data-driven insight then machines can replicate expert decisions very effectively and, in some cases, better than human experts (eg, scanning x-rays to look for signs of injury or damage). The net result of such advances in AI will undoubtedly require us to re-think the service professional experts provide. Analytical modelling based on pattern identification successfully predicted that Donald Trump would win the 2016 USA Presidential election whilst expert ‘analysts’ almost exclusively said he would not. In the future, experts will become those trained in using AI for knowledge access and providing interpretation of subsequent actions and decisions based on that information. The expert will no longer be “the font of all knowledge”.

4. Is it that the professions simply need to adapt and embrace AI rather than try to justify their existence in spite of it?

We will all embrace AI and it will be as ubiquitous as the internet, word processing, and social media. Our children will be trained to use it and exploit it and it will, increasingly, be embedded in ambient technologies operating seamlessly in the background through the Internet of Things and our fully integrated applications. The question of whether we will choose to embrace it is moot. It will just be there, like we currently experience wi-fi. It is not the case that there will be professionals who embrace it and those who choose to provide service without it: it won’t be like choosing flat-packed, machine engineered kitchen cupboards versus engaging a cabinet maker to build us a bespoke, high quality (more expensive) kitchen. There will be no professional service that stands apart from AI-enhanced service as something more personalised and bespoke.

5. Does AI change who should enter the professions and how we should educate them?

The biggest impact of AI on the professions could well be how we educate and certify professionals. The requirement to gain considerable knowledge as the precursor to experience (ie, gain a first degree in the technical skills and knowledge base of the professional domain) will become redundant. Instead, future professionals will need training in other skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, as well as specific technology skills. They will use AI to draw on the knowledge they need to apply. The net result might be that we see a different kind of person with different dispositions becoming the successful professionals of the future and not just those who demonstrated an aptitude for the core domain skills. 

Stay tuned for our next interview, featuring Klaus Veil…

The Future of Working – Technology and AI – Transforming tomorrow’s Professions and Professionals

‘The Future of Working’ is not just a glimpse into tomorrow; it’s a catalyst for action today. Join us to discover how you, as professionals, can adapt, thrive, and harness the transformative power of technology and AI to forge a successful and fulfilling career in the years to come.

Following our successful Creating Australia 2040 – Education & Employability’ Summit held in August 2022, our next Roundtable will explore the impact of technologies on the professions and the way professionals work.

It will be hosted online on Friday August 11th, 12:00 noon – 1:30pm AEST.  

This invitation-only forum for ACoP members and leaders of industry will delve into:

  • The changing nature of the professions as digital technologies transform the way professionals work
  • How professionals will work in the future
  • The possible demise of some professions/parts of some professions in the future as they are replaced by technology
  • The need for universities and education providers, industry and professional associations to work more closely together to develop and ensure success of those entering the professions as future ways of working change

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers for the event:

Professor Peter Dawkins AO, Director, Jobs and Skills Australia, joined by Natasha Yemm, acting Assistant Secretary, will provide an overview of some of JSA’s recent work on automation and how machine learning techniques are being used in the work JSA is undertaking.

Professor Peter Dawkins AO
Natasha Yemm

Anne Younger, General Manager – Policy and Projects, Ai Group Centre for Education and Training will provide an overview of the World Economic Forum’s 2023 Future of Jobs Report, which had Ai Group as the Australian survey partner

Anne Younger

Joining our keynote speakers is Jill Lawrence – Senior Policy Advocate, Chartered Accountants, Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ), who will present an insightful case study of how CA ANZ is using generative AI and share insights into the issues CA ANZ is navigating in this area.

Jill Lawrence


Simon Eassom

In the lead up to the Roundtable, we have been exploring the future impact of digital technologies and AI with Chief Futurist, Dr Simon Eassom and sharing his insights with members on some fascinating topics:

  1. The end of the professions has been predicted for some time; is AI now that final nail in the coffin?
  2. How much of the talk about AI impacting the professions is hype and how much is reality?
  3. If AI makes us all “experts”, what does that mean for professional expertise?
  4. Is it that the professions simply need to adapt and embrace AI rather than try to justify their existence in spite of it?
  5. Does AI change who should enter the professions and how we should educate them?

Head to Simon’s interview to hear his projections for the future as we engage in thought-provoking discussions on the impact of AI on job markets, re-skilling and up-skilling for the future, and the importance of fostering a human-centered approach in the face of automation.

We look forward to convening this forum for our members and leaders of industry to explore the impact of technologies on the professions and the way professionals work.

Micro-Credentials supporting in-demand jobs for STEM careers

ACoP, in conjunction with Science & Technology Australia (STA) held an exclusive STEM Careers Consultation Session on 4 July 2023, exploring a broad range of issues impacting pathways into STEM careers and movement between STEM specialisations.

STA has been commissioned by the Office of the Chief Scientist for the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council to gather updated evidence on STEM career pathways and movement across the sector. The session, facilitated by Mike Teece, STA’s Director of Research, was attended by ACoP members and leaders in STEM from across the tertiary sector, industry, professional associations, and regulatory and accreditation sectors.  

Micro-Credentials as credit towards qualifications

Issues relating to the value of Micro-Credentials and the opportunity for them to provide credit value towards new qualifications or to be recognised for entry into STEM careers were discussed. Attendees stressed the role of Micro-Credentials in augmenting core qualifications, not replacing the core qualification as the standard of practice. The session examined the need to have occupational mapping to clearly identify the skills required for STEM careers and the need for pathway mapping to national skill priorities.

Defining a ‘STEM practitioner’

Attendees noted the need to have more awareness of what “a day in the life of” a STEM practitioner looks like to build awareness and interest from professionals in other sectors, such as HR. Attendees noted that taking on a second qualification is often too disruptive for many individuals and rather than risking being lost from the core profession in the process of upskilling or retraining, there is a strong need to supplement core qualifications.

Industry and Tertiary collaboration

For specific STEM careers, the need for industry to work with universities to build programs of study based on skills required at the local level was deemed critical. There was general agreement that the B2B model is the most successful in meeting industry needs. Similarly, it was noted that Micro-Credentials played an important role in adding to trade qualifications, ensuring that technical skills need to continue to be fit for purpose. Participants also raised the need to align training and retraining to industrial awards, as a necessary step to obtain individuals’ buy in.

Prioritising wellbeing, diversity and culture

It was identified that some professions have early burn out rates, such as construction engineers, and the need to offer retraining to those professionals at that point. It was also noted that there is a very high percentage of females leaving the engineering profession post-graduation. Participants discussed the global competition for STEM skills and the importance of Australian businesses to offer competitive arrangements to retain talent.

Discussions noted the lack of clarity of how an individual can move from one STEM sector to another. Issues relating to pathways in STEM and the importance of company culture and diversity were also explored with graduates selecting employers with values aligned to theirs. Participants shared a number of initiatives being undertaken across the sector to promote STEM careers.

Next Steps

Science & Technology Australia will be submitting their draft report to the Prime Minister’s National Science and Technology Council in mid-July and would like to acknowledge ACOP’s significant contribution into this important research.

NAIDOC Week 2023: How can Professionals celebrate and respect our Elders?

Each July, NAIDOC Week celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The theme for 2023 is a call ‘For Our Elders’. As the unifying alliance for Australian professions, ACoP invites all professionals to acknowledge the significance of indigenous Elders and the important role that they have played, and continue to play, in our communities. Much like professionals, Elders are knowledge holders, trailblazers, advocates, teachers, leaders, and hard workers.

NAIDOC Week 2023 Theme

How can Professionals play their part in respecting and celebrating Elders?

ACoP is focused on the role of professions to drive evidence-based decisions, expertise and thought leadership to navigate the complex and wicked problems facing humankind – many problems of which we may have had a hand in creating.

Indigenous Elders hold the experience and intrinsic understanding across multiple sectors. Sectors that many of our professionals work in: health, education, the arts, politics and everything in between.

So, perhaps, now is the time for professionals to acknowledge our Indigenous Elders’ influence, tenacity and strength, drawing from their learnings and knowledge as they relate to our future generations.

Positive change will only come about when professionals show leadership through taking responsibility and accountability by considering all sources of knowledge to solve problems that have endured and permeated our economic, legal and social structures.

If you would like more information, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au. Download NAIDOC 2023 resources here to help celebrate NAIDOC Week!

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Hayley Angell

In our second segment of this special series, our head of diversity, culture and inclusion, Angelina Pillai chats with Hayley Angell from the Chartered Accountants, Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ). Hayley leads CA ANZ’ global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Strategy and CA ANZ’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP).

What does equity mean to you?

Hayley Angell – CA ANZ

The way I think about it – and maybe I am a bit single-minded right now training for my first triathlon… but stick with me! Ha! –  is acknowledging we’re not all starting from the same start line, the hurdles are different heights and we’re not all running the race with the same resources and support. Equity isn’t about penalising anyone or taking supports away or pointing fingers; it’s about identifying, addressing and minimising where there are higher barriers, looking for ways to narrow the gaps in starting positions and connecting resources and support where they are lacking. We’re ultimately talking about fairness.

The accounting profession has achieved near equality in terms of gender participation, which is something to celebrate and is illustrative of both men and women showing up and challenging barriers. And while there is near parity in numbers, there remain hurdles which see differences in outcomes, evident through metrics like the gender pay gap.

For example, we know those with care responsibilities generally require greater flexibility around work patterns – therefore – inflexibility is a likely barrier for those with care responsibilities. What care responsibilities don’t impact is the capability or potential of the athlete, nor would offering flexibility penalise anyone else in the race. Thus, flexibility becomes a lever for equity.

It’s for us in the professions and for leaders to think about, understand and work to minimise these barriers, rather than the athletes themselves addressing and dismantling these inequities mid-race.

How are issues of gender, neurodiversity and First Nations’ relationships celebrated/addressed in your professions, through your professional association?

A safe, diverse and inclusive profession is key for CA ANZ.

CA ANZ major inclusive leadership member event on diversity and talent. From Left: Hayley Angell, Bernard Salt AM, Karen Loon FCA, Leatigaga Jason Tualima CA and Nurain Janah CA

Gender Diversity

I’ve mentioned already that gender representation in the profession is certainly something to be celebrated and, in fact, slightly more women than men make up our Provisional Membership – those currently undertaking the CA Program. A sustainable profession is one that is attractive to all talent, so gender parity is great to see, and we’re learning more about non-binary and gender-diverse experiences through our major member surveys.

A key initiative is our Remuneration Survey – always topical and especially in the COVID/post-COVID salary landscape.  With such a strong data set (some 7,700 members participate) it’s a powerful indicator of salaries across roles, level, experiences and geography. Naturally, the survey has informed our advocacy thought leadership on the gender pay gap – we saw a 4% drop in the gender pay gap in both Australia and New Zealand from 2021 to 2022 (Aus: 28% to 24% NZ:  34% to 30%) so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues in 2023. Watch this space.

We’re about to launch our Gender Equity Charter and Playbook, a major member and employer resource alongside our Narrowing Your Gender Pay Gap Playbook and many others. The Charter is a set of commitments CA ANZ is making to gender equity and we’re inviting firms and employers to join us in making their own commitments. The Playbook offers practical guidance and highlights best practice across organisations of various sizes and sectors, to support firms and employers on their gender equity journey with suggested initiatives, approaches and measures.  Across the profession, organisations are at different stages – just as you would expect. This resource is not about calling anyone out, it is about calling all employers in to a profession-wide commitment to what gender equity looks like. I had the opportunity to garner insights from members across Australia, New Zealand and the UK and we’ve arrived at an exciting piece that I can’t wait to share.

We’ve just closed out our second Inclusion and Diversity member survey (our first survey in 2021 set the baseline for our first DEI Report and Strategy launched in 2022) we’ve had over 1,600 members tell us more about them and their experiences within the profession, with a focus on their experiences in the previous five years. With the survey having just closed, we’re about to start the process of analysis against 2021 data to get an early view of trends or changes we’ll be watching in future years. The survey includes hundreds of verbatim comments which we are keen to unpack, here are a few:

“I wish I could be proud of my disability instead of having to hide it at work.”

“My company has an active DEI program and I have found this to be more challenging than I expected. Being one of the “majority” I underestimated the difficulties that colleagues experience.”

“The more I learn about DEI, the more I come to understand how small changes can add up and make a difference. In my experience it’s often not a lack of willingness, but a lack of understanding of the practical, day-to-day challenges that prevents change.

First Nations and Reconciliation

We celebrate the value First Nations people bring to the profession in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, including the meaningful contribution Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander and Māori Chartered Accountants make to the communities, clients, and businesses they serve. We are committed to supporting Indigenous graduates and professionals on their journeys to becoming Chartered Accountants and have a number of support mechanisms in place to help address the underrepresentation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Māori and Pasifika in the accounting profession.

In Australia specifically, CA ANZ supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and has accepted the invitation to walk with First Nations people in a movement of all Australian people for a better future and support a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Australian Constitution. We made this statement publicly in December 2022, with close consultation with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member panel, a panel established in 2021.

We have just completed our first stage Reflect RAP journey and are engaging with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander member panel and RAP Working Group in preparation for commencing the next stage, our Innovate RAP.

We asked First Nations members to share more about their experiences as part of the Inclusion & Diversity member survey and this year – for the first time ever – we are asking members about their cultural background as part of our annual subscriptions process. Exploring the cultural diversity of our members including understanding First Nations participation is only in its early stages and we look forward to adding more richness in the way members can share their cultural background and other DEI dimensions in the future.

CA ANZ team at the launch of their Reflect RAP in Meeanjin / Brisbane.
Centre-Left, CA ANZ CEO Ainslie van Onselen and Hayley Angell to her left.


While we do not have a specific neurodiversity plan articulated in our DEI Strategy, we are committed to building members’ DEI and inclusive leadership capabilities, establishing member ally/advocacy groups, challenging barriers to the profession and understanding and benchmarking members’ lived experiences – including neurodiversity. Our member magazine Acuity has recently featured neurodiverse members sharing their experiences and the need for breaking barriers and the opportunity of engaging with neurodivergent talent.

We would be certainly interested in the ACoP Neurodiversity survey when available.

In your view, what is the obligation of professionals to improve/support the following across professional landscapes and the professions in general? How do/can they do this?

This is fundamental obligation of the professions and professionals. The duty of a Chartered Accountant is to act in the public good. We might know of the Hippocratic Oath for doctors, or the duty of lawyers to act as officers of the courts – CA ANZ members make their commitment to conduct themselves in the interests of the public good, ‘without fear or favour’ in quite a beautiful affirmation called ‘The Charge’.

The professions have come to understand that part of the social licence to operate is being representative of the communities they serve. This includes breaking down outdated barriers that were created by elitism, so professions can attract contemporary talent.  We are currently experiencing the tightest talent crisis in living memory, and in a lot of ways – like COVID catalysed and supercharged the technology-adoption and flexibility changes that were already happening – the talent crunch has multiplied DEI efforts that were already creating positive changes and breaking down barriers to the professions.

For the next generation coming through, values-led business practices and inclusive approaches are not ‘nice to have’ – they’re expected.  As graduate and non-graduate talent continue to vote with their feet, employers and professions that haven’t done the work will risk relevancy and attractiveness. We recently released a major resource for members the Fresh Talent Toolkit a comprehensive recruitment and employer value proposition development guide for firms and SMEs. We layered an inclusive recruitment lens at every stage and I think what has been surprising for some is – a) how simple some adjustments are to make, and b) how much they can improve the experience and outcomes for everyone.

How do you measure diversity, equity and inclusion in your organisation?

For our members, I’ve mentioned our annual Inclusion & Diversity and Remuneration member surveys and there’s more to come as we deepen the analysis of these key data points.  I’ve also spoken about the diversity dimensions we’re building into our annual subscriptions process.

One of the key ambitions of our multi-year member DEI strategy is to create an Inclusion Coalition – where member organisations and leaders mobilise together to sign an Inclusion Accord committing to a range of measurable DEI outcomes for the profession. The Inclusion Accord will ask organisations to make specific and measurable commitments on DEI for their organisation and progress will be reported and tracked annually. So, this is what we’re working towards.

For us as an organisation, we’ve committed to creating ‘a culture of Difference Makers’ with a diverse and inclusive culture for our people as part of our organisation-wide strategy. Personally – It’s what attracted me, not only to my current role, but to CA ANZ as an organisation.

How would you like ACoP to support this agenda for your professional association?

For us to be able to see what’s happening with other professions is just so useful. It’s so easy to get caught up in your own patch, so to be able to learn and share experiences with other member associations and other professions, is powerful.  Inspiration, connection and collaboration – bring it on!

To hear different solutions and approaches to common issues or challenges and shining a light on success stories, is where ACoP can help for sure.

Hayley speaking on a panel for CA ANZ partnered member event with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and the Group of 100 (G100) on diversity in the profession.
Hayley joined CA ANZ in 2020 as Queensland Regional Manager to drive engagement across the State, following key membership and partnership roles at Queensland Law Society and CPA Australia. She has 15 years’ experience as a speaker, host and facilitator working with leading global brands like Mastercard, Deutsche Bank, Virgin Media, BHP Billiton, Royal Bank of Canada, and Australia Post. Hayley has worked to re-imagine member recognition, milestones and celebrations at CA ANZ and the interplay between designation, identity and belonging. Hayley leads CA ANZ global DEI Strategy and CA ANZ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP). Hayley has lived experience as a woman, a queer person, a person from a low-SES background and as carer to a person with a disability.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion – Jeanene Williams

Jeanene Williams, Co-Chair National Diversity and Inclusion, Australian Computer Society

Our Head of Diversity, Culture and Inclusion, Angelina Pillai has been catching up with several of our Member Organisations recently to find out how they are addressing and celebrating diversity and equity in their respective professions. In this segment, Ange sits down with Jeanene Williams, Co-Chair of the Australian Computer Society’s (ACS) National Diversity and Inclusion Council for an insightful and empowering conversation.

What does equity mean to you?

Equity means providing people with the help and assistance they need to be able to compete equally within the workforce. That, for difference people, will mean different things and different levels of support, where some will need more support than others.

So, equity is really about making sure that everybody ends up being able to compete equally in the long run.

How are issues of gender, First Nations’ relationships and neurodiversity celebrated/addressed in your professions, through your professional association?

Gender diversity

The Information Technology (IT) industry is not the most diverse. It’s just reached 31% of women in IT, with the last year experiencing the biggest growth from 29%.

In 2018, the studies by WorkSafe on Sexual Harassment showed that the Information and Media industry (grouped together) had the worst case of sexual harassment of any industry, with about 81% of people being affected, twice as much as the mining industry. Whilst the study is slightly dated, it does give an indication of why these issues within the industry are not attracting women.

In analysing the 31% of women in IT statistic, that percentage is significantly lower for women in leadership positions in IT. Most of the women in IT are in administrative areas. This is rather surprising given that IT is considered a creative industry, and there is strong acknowledgement that the better the diversity the better the creativity, but getting traction has been very slow.

First Nations and Reconciliation

There is even less focus on First Nations, with only 0.06% of Aboriginal representation across the industry, which is significantly smaller that the Aboriginal population.


Neurodiverse IT professionals are very under-represented in the industry, but this is improving. They are seen to be very capable in the technical areas, however they are still underrepresented in comparison with the neurodiverse population.  

Another area that is underrepresented is the LGBTQA+, although not as bad as the other areas when taken into account across the general population distribution.

The IT industry is a very slow industry to make change in. In Australia, most of the investment and management of the industry is skewed to the older generation of professionals which is contributing to the lack of willingness to make change.

In the ACS elected membership cohort, the average age distribution is such where the highest grouping is 50 – 70 years old. It is also very male dominated, with less than 25% women for the ACS elected members’ group. This is in part because the younger professionals are concentrating on their career progression and aren’t necessarily stepping forward or encouraged to apply for positions. So, this permeates the culture of change resistance.

When people of diversity achieve things, they need to be celebrated, promoted and recognised outside their diversity (ie: not because they are women, or neurodiverse). So, it’s about normalising diversity, otherwise it creates a stigma in itself where the perception could be that they got promoted just because they are a woman, or neurodiverse because the risk is that it could backfire.

Jeanene Williams

In your view, what is the obligation of professionals to improve/support the following across professional landscapes and the professions in general? How do/can they do this?

There are a number of initiatives that can be implemented in attracting girls in school to consider STEM professions. At the ACS, the WA Branch Manager goes out to schools to present and showcase the IT profession and bring awareness of it.  

For girls wanting to get into the profession, there is a lack of women role models. It’s easier for girls to be attracted to the profession if they can see somebody that they aspire to. However, that’s the missing piece. There are not enough of these role models to go around. Those that are in leadership positions are very few and far between, very sought after and very stretched.

Organisations such as Women in Technology do quite a bit in this area, such as Awards, however there needs to be more follow up and visibility with recipients of those Awards to be given more opportunity so they are visible and promoted to leadership positions, instead of recruiting the few that are already in those high positions.

This is where professional associations have a very strong role to play in promoting that visibility of diverse groups, not because they are diverse, but for their amazing achievements instead. It’s not just about the visibility of the professional associations themselves, but showcasing that these are the people, diverse people, from these organisations that are making impact. And ultimately, these are the organisations that people would want to work for. Organisations that employ and celebrate all forms of diversity, not just in the gender space, are organisations of choice.

In terms of the obligation of professionals, the Code of Conduct is a good mechanism and has a good role to play to hold professionals accountable. The IT industry has faced some damage to the reputation of the industry in recent times, for example with data breaches and Robodebt; and this makes it less attractive for people to join the industry. From experience, it appears to be more prevalent with women who are not willing to enter an industry which isn’t socially responsible.

There’s a sense that organisations are more focussed on people who are in the organisation or those who are about to come in; and less focused on those who may want to come in. For example, IT is experiencing people coming into the industry from other professions, not necessarily new and younger entrants, so it needs to broaden that appeal.  

ACS is updating its Code of Conduct and making it more visible and accountable, so members are aware what’s acceptable conduct.

So, the main obligation is for professionals to uphold the reputation of the industry.

Another obligation is to recognise the figures. ACS publishes an annual Digital Pulse, a snapshot of the industry which includes diversity figures, from ABS statistics and surveys, and tracks the diversity of the industry (such as gender, disability and First Nations representation). However, it can afford to be more granular which is what is being worked on.

All professions should be tracking the diversity and then highlighting the outcomes and promoting role models together with promoting talent (women and people of diversity) from within.

A key to these results of the tracking is to actually celebrate progress however small, instead of dwelling on the lack of progress. This enables us to continually build on the positive steps.

Professional associations have a very strong role to play in promoting that visibility of diverse groups, not because they are diverse, but for their amazing achievements instead. It’s not just about the visibility of the professional associations themselves, but showcasing that these are the people, diverse people, from these organisations that are making impact.

Jeanene Williams

How do you measure diversity, equity and inclusion in your organisation?

ACS’ Digital Pulse is an example, but there is a degree of survey fatigue in the industry as surveys are being conducted from government to professional associations. This can be quite onerous.

However, as a professional association, at the very least asking members to report on diversity is one approach. And getting individual members to measure themselves.

The key to surveys is to demonstrate that when it’s done, there’s actually action and outcomes from it in the form of positive reinforcement of what is actually being done with the data. For example, you can cite that these are the things you can do to enable change; these are the benefits, and ultimately, celebrate change.  

When people of diversity achieve things, they need to be celebrated, promoted and recognised outside their diversity (ie: not because they are women, or neurodiverse). So, it’s about normalising diversity, otherwise it creates a stigma in itself where the perception could be that they got promoted just because they are a woman, or neurodiverse because the risk is that it could backfire.

How would you like ACoP to support this agenda for your professional association?

  1. Getting consistency across professional associations as ACoP has a lens across multiple associations and professions
  2. Raising the profile of respective professional associations, such as ACS with other associations. Associations tend to be quite insular, so that broader exposure is very advantageous. Eg: Engineers and Architects knowing what IT does
  3. We will have more impact collectively, if people look to professional associations in general as being leaders in diversity so their members can follow the lead (you can’t be what you can’t see)
  4. Perhaps an Awards program across all professions – such as the ACoP National Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards!

Where to from here?

ACoP will be publishing a series of these engaging interviews, culminating in an interactive panel event in the coming months to share experiences, ideas and important initiatives to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion across the professions. Stay tuned!

IWD 2023 – How is your Report Card?

As International Women’s Day continues to be celebrated across the nation this week with an abundance of events, newsletters, speeches, discussions and banners inviting us to either #EmbraceEquity or #CrackTheCode, there is still an insurmountable amount of work that needs to be undertaken in order for Australia to empower impactful diversity and equality across our professional landscapes.

While International Womens Day (IWD) is a stark reminder in which gender equal issues are brought to light, it should also serve as a warning that professionals need to equally demonstrate their commitment and success in achieving targets, raising awareness, taking action and measuring their performance by meaningfully redefining what change represents across social, economic, and cultural codes of professional practice.

The Federal Government’s Status of Women Report Card – 2023 strategy announced on IWD 2023, aims at tracking progress on a range of key issues on gender equality in an annual ‘Report Card’ by collecting data, engaging with that data, measuring progress and holding ourselves accountable for achieving impact.

Some of the findings of the Report Card reveal that Australia is sadly ranked 43rd for gender equality internationally compounded by statistics such as the 13.3% pay gap for full time weekly wages; 30% of Australian men who don’t believe inequality exists compared to the global average of 21%; the reality that due to this workplace inequality women end up with 23.1% less superannuation than men the same age on average; and other high level statistics on harassment which coincides with the introduction of new laws this week on workplace sexual harassment reforms. The situation for First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women is even more dire…

So, have we really shifted the pendulum of change on gender equity?

Put simply, ‘No’. In fact, the pendulum of progress on gender equality appears to be going backwards, not advancing. According to the UN’s secretary general, António Guterres, global gender equality is still 300 years away. In a speech before the UN Commission on the Status of Women to coincide with IWD, he called for “collective action” worldwide by all sectors – public, private, government, academia – by investing in “gender-responsive” education, training, employment with a focus on the digital environment.

ACoP is calling on all professionals to step up and act. As a collective Council of professionals, we have an immense opportunity – and obligation – to facilitate change in as many ways as possible. But it requires a lot less talk, and a lot more action for 2024’s Report Card to unveil a better set of statistics.