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Adaptability and learning skills:


As digital technologies and job requirements evolve, workers must enhance their ability to adapt to new situations and acquire new skills. As the world of work becomes more flexible, individuals are expected to take more responsibility for their own 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 with flexibily and innovation
  • showing innovation and creativity
  • being entreprenurial.

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

In their 2018 Skills Forecasts, IRC’s ranked a series of 12 generic skill categories, in priority order.

Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management (which aligns directly with Adaptability) was, on average, the highest ranked generic skill (out of 12) across all Skills Forecasts.


Priority skills

In terms of specific references to these skills in the Forecasts, adaptability related skills were also identified to a moderate degree by industries that reported on priority skills in their 2018 Skills Forecasts.

The two-main adaptability related skills, which were identified most frequently within priority skills lists in Skills Forecasts were:

  • Adaptability, agility and flexibility in changing conditions (including the ability to plan for and embrace changing skills needs, which may arise from new technologies and ways of working), identified by the following industries:
    • Education
    • Financial Services
    • Information and Communications Technology
    • Manufactured Mineral Products
    • Mining, drilling and civil infrastructure
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Racing
    • Recreational Vehicles and Process Manufacturing
    • Sustainability industry
  • Active learning and engagement with training, identified by the following industries:
    • Education
    • Manufactured Mineral Products
    • Plastics, Rubber and Cablemaking
    • Tourism Travel and Hospitality
    • Wholesale Retail and Personal Services.



    Case studies

    Ambulance and Paramedics

    The Ambulance and Paramedics industry is broad and encompasses a wide range of roles across the community which deliver fundamental pre-hospital and out-of-hospital health care services. The industry supports many of Australia’s first responders, who operate in high-risk, unpredictable work environments involving providing care to people who are in distress, afraid, ill or incarcerated. They face unforseeable scenarios on a daily basis, and as such, must be adaptable in order to respond effectively to these challenges.

    Technological advancements within the industry have provided an opportunity for Ambulance and Paramedic staff to prepare for challenging or unpredictable scenarios – through the use of virtual reality and high fidelity training equipment:

    • Virtual Reality (VR) training - Virtual Reality goggles are being used as part of training to enhance situational awareness of ambulance officers, paramedics and other emergency support staff, and provide more virtual experience of difficult scenarios.
    • High Fidelity training – high-fidelity patient simulation (HPS) refers to the use of computerised mannequins that simulate real-life scenarios. Long used in medical schools and the military, HPS is quickly becoming essential in the training of ambulance officers and paramedics.

    However, with this new technology comes the need to ensure that the technologies are used to their full capacity and that those working in the Ambulance and Paramedics industry are able to evolve and adapt to the digitalisation of some job roles/functions. This is reinforced in the Ambulance and Paramedics IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast, which notes that:

    Technological disruption, as it has done in the past, will replace some industries, companies and workers, especially those that lack the flexibility to adapt.

    Printing and Graphic Arts 

    The ability to respond well to change and embrace new roles and technologies is a skill which is prioritised by the Printing and Graphic Arts industry.

    Adaptability 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 evolving industry trends and new technologies which are impacting the sector:

    The continual and rapid evolution of printing processes and software means that workers in the industry are likely to need to adapt to ongoing technological change.

    Changing technology and preferences is requiring workers in the printing and graphic arts sector to ‘top-up’ their skills to keep up to date with change.

    ICP (Printing and Graphic Arts) graduates will need adaptability and flexibility so that they can move seamlessly between sub-sectors or organisations that may not have their core business in the sector, but still require printing and graphic arts skills. This agility will also include the ability to be autonomous and self-directing in a changing sector.

    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. (Printing and Graphic Arts IRC).

    Updated: 19 Dec 2018
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