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Priority skills


This section provides a summary of the priority skills identified by the Industry Reference Committee (IRC) 2017 Skills Forecasts. 

IRCs have pinpointed a variety of skills which are priorities for their industry. Drawing on the skills framework set out in the Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training report, these have been grouped within eleven high-level skill areas for the purposes of this analysis. 

For more information on the factors driving demand for skills please visit the Factors and trends page. For information on the cross-sector projects and training package development work underway please visit the Key initiatives page.  

Each page below contains a summary of the skill need, industry demand for that skill, and case studies of industry clusters and sectors with a specific need for each priority skill:


The priority skills framework has largely been based on and adapted from the skills outlined in the Skills chapter of the Miles Morgan report Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training, which is available on the AISC website. The report outlines a series of skills that workers need to be effective in Australia’s future workplace.

Additional priority skills areas have been created, in instances where 2017 IRC Skills Forecasts have consistently identified certain skills needs, which aren’t a focus in the Future Skills and Training resource (for example, Leadership and Management skills, and Business and Compliance skills).

Eleven priority skills areas have been created:

  • Industry and occupation specific skills (technical skills)
  • Digital skills (i.e. new technologies, robotics and automation, big data, and cyber security)
  • Leadership and management skills (i.e. leadership of self and others)
  • Business and compliance skills (i.e. small business skills, and regulatory compliance)
  • Collaboration skills (i.e. interpersonal skills, communication, and teamwork)
  • Social platform and marketing skills (i.e. social media, marketing and customer service)
  • Foundation skills (i.e. language, literacy and numeracy, including digital literacy)
  • Analytical skills (i.e. data analysis, critical and creative thinking, and problem solving)
  • Adaptability and learning skills (i.e. innovation, flexibility, and multiskilling)
  • Sustainability and natural resource management skills (i.e. green skills)
  • STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Each area represents a range of relevant ‘free-text’ examples of more specific skills, requested by IRCs. For example, IRC demand for ‘small business skills’, ‘business management’ and ‘compliance skills’ in the Skills Outlook chapter of their Skills Forecast are captured within the ‘Business and compliance skills’ area. Best judgement was used to allocate ‘free-text’ responses to the most appropriate skill area from the list above.

The priority skill area ‘industry and occupation specific skills’ has been created to capture all the specific and technical skills IRCs have identified which are relevant to their industry or occupation.

Skills ranking

A systematic review of the Skills Forecasts from 2017 has been undertaken to identify which priority skills areas are most prevalent for the IRCs. More specifically, priority skills identified in the Skills Outlook chapter of each IRC Skills Forecast have been counted and ranked. Rankings are based on the proportion of all Skills Forecasts which identify and prioritise skills within a specific skill area. For example, a Skills Forecast may refer multiple times to different ‘digital skills’ in the Skills Outlook chapter (i.e. coding skills, digital literacy, and automation), but this is only counted once, against the ‘Digital skills’ area. The priority skills area appearing in the most IRC Skills Forecasts was ranked 1st, while the skills area prioritised the least in IRC Skills Forecasts ranked 11th.

The case studies that are presented in each Priority Skills page are intended to provide more information about IRC or industry demand for a specific skill (and more detail about why that skill is a priority for that particular industry).

Generic skills, which have been ranked by IRCs in the Skills Outlook chapter of their Skills Forecasts, have also been considered, in relation to priority skill rankings.

However the focus of the Priority Skills pages is primarily on the skills listed as priorities by the IRCs. These generic skills align closely with the priority skills developed independently for this resource and have been referred to where appropriate throughout the Priority Skills pages (for example, presenting the relative rankings of aligned generic and priority skills areas – i.e. the ranking of ‘Communication/Virtual collaboration/Social intelligence’ and ‘Collaboration skills’).

Updated: 08 Nov 2018
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