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Analytical skills:


Data is becoming increasingly available, with ‘big data’ being derived from online activity, sensors, the ‘internet of things’, new analytical tools, and artificial intelligence. Workers in almost all industries, and across most roles, will be expected to use available data to derive value, and improve products and services. This may require the ability to analyse and present raw data or to interpret data analysis and apply findings.

While data analytical skills are increasingly important, other skills such as data management, information literacy, problem solving, critical thinking and creative thinking skills are also required by industries.

The cross-sector project, Big Data, reviewed current and emerging developments in big data skills, particularly in relation to data management, data analytics and data-driven decision-making to identify the related skills needs shared by multiple industry sectors. The project is now complete and led to the AISC approving the development of nine new big data cross sector units and two new skill sets which are housed in the Business Services Training Package.


Cross sector projects

COVID-19 impact

The 2020 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) finds the top skills employers consider to be increasing in importance include critical thinking and analysis skills as well as problem-solving. For Australia’s country profile, the skills identified as being in high demand by the organisations surveyed were:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation – ranked number 1
  • Critical thinking and analysis – ranked number 3
  • Complex problem-solving – ranked number 7
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation – number 13.

Further to this, LinkedIn’s 2020 Grad’s Guide to Getting Hired shows analytical skills at number 4 of the top 10 skills.

Following a referral from the Australian Government Minister for Education and Youth, the House Standing Committee on Employment, Education and Training will inquire into and report on adult literacy, numeracy and problem-solving skills in Australia in 2021.

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

In their comprehensive 2019 Skills Forecasts, IRCs ranked a series of 12 generic skill categories, in priority order.

The generic skills category focused around Design mindset / Thinking critically / Systems thinking / Problem solving aligns with Analytical skills, and received an average ranking of 3rd (out of 12) across all Skills Forecasts.


Data analysis skills, another generic skills category associated with Analytical skills, received an average ranking of 9th (out of 12) across all IRC Skills Forecasts.



Priority skills

Analytical skills were also identified to a moderately high degree by industries that reported on priority skills in their 2019 Skills Forecasts.

The two analytical skills identified most frequently were:

  • Critical thinking, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design
    • Dance
    • Business Services
    • Children’s Education and Care
    • Government
    • Ambulance and Paramedic
    • Complementary Health
    • Enrolled Nursing
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Retail and Wholesale.
  • Problem solving, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design
    • Dance
    • Automotive
    • Business Services
    • Children’s Education and Care
    • Client Services
    • Direct Client Care and Support
    • Financial Services
    • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers
    • Ambulance and Paramedic
    • Complementary Health
    • Dental
    • First Aid
    • Technicians Support Services
    • Information and Communications Technology
    • Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Sport, Fitness and Recreation
    • Tourism, Travel and Hospitality.











Internet job postings

Internet job vacancy postings that contained requests for analytical skills were examined for occupational trends. This includes problem solving, critical thinking, troubleshooting, research and data analysis expertise. The chart below compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested analytical skills.

Internet job postings that requested problem solving skills, by occupation (2016-20) 

Source: Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ Real-time Labor Market Information tool

Analytical skills were most often requested for professional, managerial or clerical and administrative positions. They were rarely requested for machinery operations or driving, labouring or community and personal service positions. This suggests that employers may consider these roles to be more restricted and technical in focus, rather than positions requiring higher-level analytical thinking.

The following graphic shows examples of occupations where analytical skills are highly requested, and some examples of the types of requests employers are making for those in these occupations.


There are a range of technical occupations for which analytical skills are commonly requested, from data and business analysts to medical and marketing related occupations. Businesses are eager to take advantage of analytical and data-based insights in order to improve.

Case studies

Information and Communications Technology

The Information and Communications Technology industry consists of the five sectors listed below. Each identified analytical and related skills as a top priority for their workforce to keep pace with the rapid evolution of technology.

  • Digital media
  • ICT networks
  • ICT operations and support
  • Programming, Software and Web Development
  • Telecommunications technology.

The need for analytical and related skills are highlighted by the following quotes from the Information and Communication Technology IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast:

In ICT – and many other sectors – employers are demanding skills that will deliver on the promises of new and emerging technologies, including advanced skills in data analytics, software engineering and cloud computing.

It is anticipated that ICT job roles and skills will be necessary to harness the potential of new and emerging technologies. This includes highly specialised skills, such as in data analytics and software engineering to design, develop and implement new technology, as well as digital literacy, creativity and communication skills to work effectively in future economy that is set to be more automated and digitally connected than ever before.

Financial Services

The Financial Services industry in Australia is large and includes the following sectors:

  • Banking
  • Mortgage broking
  • Financial markets
  • Financial planning and advice
  • Insurance
  • Superannuation
  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Mercantile agents
  • Trust administration.

All sectors identified the need for analytical and related skills in their workforce, to better understand the requirements of their clients or improve internal operations in the business. This is highlighted by the following quotes, sourced from the Financial Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast:

Additionally, proficiency in computing skills, strong analytical skills, and adaptability to understand and embrace new technologies and work environments will enable workers in order to better prepare them for changing industry demands, particularly in the FinTech space with the increasing digitisation of products, platforms, and services.

There are also increased considerations for mortgage brokers to be aware of in regards to data management and protection, due to the level of personal information collected and stored electronically.

Advances in technology have improved access to customer information and improved processes, and also raise a need for data related training.

Updated: 07 May 2021
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