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Adaptability and learning skills:


In a world where skills will constantly need to adapt to new technologies and job requirements, people will need to be taught skills that enhance their ability to adapt to new situations and acquire new skills. 

As the world of work becomes more flexible, workers are expected to take more responsibility for their skills development.

Some of the ways in which industry need workers to be adaptable include:

  • Showing awareness of changes in the industry
  • Showing resilience and embracing change
  • Being adaptable in a changing industry, changing environments and changing markets
  • Adapting to new technologies and new ways of doing business
  • Showing a proficiency and willingness to learn
  • Being engaged in career development and planning
  • Maintaining skill relevancy, upskilling and multi-skilling
  • Responding to situations flexibly and innovatively
  • Showing innovation and creativity
  • Being entrepreneurial.

20% of IRC Skills Forecasts identified this skill as a priority

Industry skills needs

Adaptability and learning skills ranked as the 9th highest-priority by industry, with 20% of individual IRC Skills Forecasts listing them as a priority for their workforce.

When considering the IRC’s ranking of generic skills, Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management ranked 2nd (out of 12).

While not highly ranked across all industries, adaptability and learning skills are a high priority for a handful of industries.

Industries which prioritised adaptability and learning skills include:

  • Printing and Graphic Arts
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Education
  • Chemical Hydrocarbons and Refining
  • ESI Generation
  • EST Transmission, Distribution and Rail
  • Gas Supply
  • Client Services
  • Direct Client Care and Support.




    Case studies

    Education (VET teacher training)

    The Education industry (VET teacher training) identifies ongoing reform in the VET sector as one of the key challenges facing the industry. The Education IRC suggests that VET professionals must be adaptable and resilient to succeed in the changing environment. 

    Quotes sourced from the Education IRC Skill Forecast show why adaptability and learning skills are a priority in this industry:

    VET professionals must continue to embrace change if they are to be successful in this fluid regulatory, technological and economic environment. The workforce’s ability to understand the implications of change and adapt their working style accordingly will be critical to the teaching of high quality and current education and training. 

    Constant change can also lead to a high degree of stress and uncertainty. Resilience is an important part of embracing change, especially the ability to be cognisant of the stresses of other workers and learners and cooperate to make it through change together. 

    Culture and Related industries

    The Culture and Related industry consists of a number of industry sectors which identified adaptability skills as a priority for their workforce. Industry sectors include:
    • Dance and musical theatre
    • Dance teaching
    • Technical live production
    • Music
    • Broadcast technology
    • Technical screen and media production
    • Design
    • Visual arts
    • Arts administration and support
    • Event and venue management
    • Galleries and museums.

    Adaptability and learning skills are needed in the Culture and Related industries workforce to enable workers to compete in changing markets. This is demonstrated in the following quotes from the Culture and Related Industries IRC Skills Forecast:

    Employers need employees who are agile and have critical thinking skills so that they are able to compete in a changing market and to see new opportunities as they arise. 

    Ability to be creative and adaptable and to use problem solving skills in difficult situations. This includes agile thinking and active processing capabilities as well as the ability to apply up to date technologies and ideas to any problem at hand. 

    Printing and Graphic Arts 

    The Printing and Graphic Arts industry identifies adaptability and learning skills as a priority for their workforce.

    Adaptability and learning skills are needed in the Printing and Graphic Arts workforce to enable workers to combat a static and tradition driven workforce. Traditional print and design workers need to be able to operate in a multi-channel environment, including having awareness of industry trends and data availability, collaboration and creative and critical thinking.

    These quotes from the Printing and Graphic Arts IRC Skills Forecast highlight why adaptability and learning skills have been prioritised in this industry:

    Different parts of the sector are contracting, growing or transforming in response to external forces. An understanding of the broad industry and trends, as well as the ability to research and analyse new information will allow workers to keep up to date with movements. Increased awareness industry changes and conditions by workers is likely to lead to adaptability and sustainability of the industry itself. 

    An ability to plan one’s own career (or own business) in a changing industry environment by self-assessing skills and planning development and progression. For entry level workers this is the ability to assess and find the best place for themselves in the market. At higher levels it may be about creating that market for the service they can provide. 

    Technology is changing the way that printing and graphic arts services are delivered. The industry composition of what those services are is also adapting with some sub-sectors contracting and others innovating in to new spaces. Structural change in the sector means that printing and graphic arts graduates will need adaptability and flexibility skills, to respond to change and embrace new roles and technologies. 

    Agility, together with problem solving skills, will make workers more open and able to understand new technologies, and their associated applications and benefits to their specific field. This will enable the sector to harness the possibilities of technological change. 

    Updated: 29 May 2018
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