What we learn, when we learn it and how we learn it all needs to change drastically as we edge closer to an automated economy, a study has found.

Commissioned by Google and produced by data analytics firm AlphaBeta, the Future Skills report examines over 300 jobs and 500 skills to pinpoint the skills needed for success in the future.

Among them, “uniquely human” traits such as teamwork, empathy, adaptability and leadership all feature.

The value of such skills is that they “complement, rather than compete” with AI and automation.

And while none of these skills are particularly revolutionary, the report suggests that it is the way in which these skills are delivered that requires an overhaul.

By 2040, three hours of your week will need to be dedicated to additional education and training – amounting to a 33% increase across an average lifetime – as lifelong learning becomes imperative.

“Millennials will be the last ­generation of young Australians sent out into the world with a qualification that is expected to last a lifetime,” said co-founder of AlphaBeta Dr Andrew Charlton in an op-ed for The Australian.

“Currently the average Australian receives more than 80% of their total lifetime hours of learning before the age of 21.

“But as change speeds up, the half-life of educational qualifications is falling. By 2040, we predict that more than 40% of total Australian education will be delivered after the age of 21 to mature Australians topping up skills to move jobs or stay relevant in jobs that are changing.”

The extra three hours of training per week will accumulate to 8,000 extra hours of training across a workers’ lifetime – 33% more than today’s average.

But AlphaBeta does not expect to see universities or even TAFEs cashing in from this education shift.

Rather, on-the-job training and short flexible courses will carry the load. On-the-job training is expected to make up 42% of an average Australian’s total lifetime skills training, up from 21% today.

Lifelong learning

The report also calls for an increased focus on late-in-life learning.

Increased life expectancies and later retirements mean Australian workers will have to take a “life-long learning” approach.

“In the future, Australians will need to continuously revise and refresh personal skills during a variety of life stages and in different personal circumstances, many of which are our current education system is not optimised to serve,” says the report.

The percentage of workers aged over 65 increased from 8% to 13% in the decade leading up to 2016, states the report, and it is likely it will continue to rise.

It also highlights the current discrepancy between adult and teenage learning – two hours per week for an adult versus 26 for a teen.

“Australians will need to learn more in all stages of their lives,” the report explains.

“But our analysis shows that the need for training in additional skills is largest in the later stage of a worker’s career.”

The classification of learning as a “continuous process” will force workers to change their priorities.