Younger workers in the early years of their career are expecting to retire at the age of 52 – 15 years before the federal government has decided they should stop working.
Across all age groups, the expectation of having a job for life no longer exists for more than two thirds of Australian workers, a new national survey has found.
Deloitte Access Economics surveyed 1400 people around the country across a variety of professions and ages and warned that growing confidence in younger generations needs to be balanced with more realistic expectations.
The report says an increase in confidence after the global financial crisis may be "creating unrealistic expectations", particularly in younger people with less than five years' experience in the workforce.
"Our survey shows that, on average, early career employees think they will retire at the age of 52," the Deloitte report says.
"Given the increasing costs of retirement, the smaller workforce and pressure on government budgets, this seems untenable. Policy makers may need to adjust the expectations of younger workers to this reality."
More than half younger workers also believe their qualifications are not very relevant to their work.
But the survey also found higher education qualifications were increasingly transferable. About 40 per cent of university education employees have a degree outside their primary areas of work.
The study, Future of Work: How can we adapt to survive and thrive?, found that 60 per cent of people surveyed expect to change roles or industries in the next 10 years. And 67 per cent expect their existing job will no longer exist, or require a new skills set, within 15 years.
Almost one third of employees said changes in technology are most likely to drive job change.
Two in five said they were uncertain or nervous about their employment future, with most feeling positive or excited about change in their careers.
Of those looking to change jobs in the next 10 years, three in five expect to work in a different industry or role.
"A job for life just doesn't have a place in our modern society," declared Lee White, chief executive officer of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, which commissioned the report.
"Each of use needs to recognise that our skills set, if left un-nurtured, will quickly become obsolete.
"Individuals need to ask themselves what skills they'll need to succeed in an automated society."
Mr White also questioned whether school curriculums were up to the task of teaching "transferable skills and a different mindset about the future world of work".
Michael Warren, the national training manager for Landscape Solutions in Sydney is among employers taking the re-skilling of workers into its own hands with in-house training in how to use the latest in technology. Employee Paul Scurfield was recently trained in how to use technologically advanced plant equipment for commercial landscaping.
"Generic training about plant equipment is available but we had to retrain our operators to use the new technology in the specific context of commercial landscaping," Mr Warren said.
The new survey also found that the development of specialist versus generalist skills varied from industry to industry.
However, a generalist set of skills may be more useful in a rapidly changing labour market.
"The question then becomes: should these generalist skills be emphasised more in the formal education system, or can they be imparted in the workplace?," the Deloitte report says.
"Such questions and the nature of skills development more broadly will become an increasingly important consideration for employees in the future as the interaction between skills, employment and careers becomes more fluid."