University education: 3 ways it will futureproof your career

Simon Kuestenmacher believes a university education is your ticket to a highly skilled, well-paid, secure job. And he has the data to back it up.

Simon is a rising star in the field of data management and insight. Not just one of Australia’s leading demographic experts, he’s a Top 10 world influencer in data visualisation. Simon gives his top three reasons why a university education will secure your future in Australia’s workforce.

1. University education leads to highly skilled, well-paid jobs

“Thirty-two per cent of jobs in Australia in February 2020 – pre-COVID-19 – were highly skilled jobs that required a university-level education.

“While in Australia we still think everybody is in the ‘middle-class’, that’s not the case anymore. Rather, we have more people in highly skilled jobs and more people in low skilled jobs – and the gap is growing. This is the hollowing out of the Australian workforce – increasingly into jobs that either pay more or jobs that pay less.”

So, how do you position yourself up the highly skilled, ‘paid more’ end of the scale?

“University education is the entry ticket.”

2. Access to a greater pool of jobs provides increased job security

A university education will not only lead you to a better paid job – you’re also more likely to remain employed, even in uncertain times. Simon explains.

“Half of all the new jobs created in Australia over the last five years were skill level one (highly skilled) jobs. This means that hollowing out of the Australian workforce is getting more and more extreme.

“When we look at net job losses in Australia since February 2020, we see the impact of COVID on the Australian workforce. While every skill level lost jobs, amazingly, the total number of skill level one jobs continued to grow. That’s because we added more logistics workers and more medical staff to the workforce in order to cope with the pandemic.”

“If you want to futureproof your career, I cannot stress enough the importance of university education.”

3. You’ll get the skills you need to succeed

In an increasingly automated workforce, Simon says human-centric skills will be more and more in demand.

“If you’re able to empathise with people, to clearly communicate, to put two ideas together in a creative way to make a new one – that’s the kind of stuff that robots and artificial intelligence won’t be doing to a human level any time soon. Therefore, in your education you want to focus on building these type of soft skills.”

University education can give you the skill set, mindset and learning environment to do that. Here are Simon’s top tips for getting the most out of your uni experience.

Skill set

Basic STEM skills. It doesn’t matter what your field is, you need to be data literate. That means having the ability to read basic datasets and understand the veracity of data.

Self-organisation. Increasingly, teams work remotely and with other teams, so you need to be able to organise your time in an effective manner. University is a great time to learn this skill.

Speaking clearly. You need to be able to articulate your ideas to other people.

‘Know thyself’. To quote Socrates, you need to know how you operate in different contexts. We are all different personas in different environments – be aware of this.


Embrace change. As we learned in the pandemic, you need to be able to adjust when things change.

Cultural competency. You learn this better at university than anywhere else. Your uni will have a mix of different people and different cultures.

Enterprising mindset. You don’t need to be an entrepreneur to do this. Take the initiative in your context, whatever that is.

Empathy. You’ll be dealing increasingly with people as machines automate, so you need to be empathetic. Learn to like and understand your co-workers, your clients, your customers.

Learning environment

Mentoring. Get into industry partnerships and build up your professional network. 

Individualised expertise. Remember, it’s as important to learn how to acquire new knowledge as it is to learn new knowledge.

Collaborative working. Take group assignments seriously and learn how to collaborate with other people.

Lifelong learning.  Finishing your university degree is not the end of your learning. Be a lifelong learner.

Secure your future with a university education

At Charles Sturt, we incorporate soft skills into all our courses to ensure you’re equipped for the needs of Australia’s workforce. Start to futureproof your career with us today.