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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, reviews current and emerging developments in big data skills, particularly in relation to data management, data analytics and data-driven decision-making, and identifies the related skills needs shared by multiple industry sectors.


Cross sector projects

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

In their 2018 Skills Forecasts, IRC’s 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 2nd (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 2018 Skills Forecasts.

The two analytical skills identified most frequently were:

  • Critical thinking, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Client Services
    • Community Sector and Development
    • Ambulance and Paramedics
    • Dental
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Personal Services
    • Printing and Graphic Arts
    • Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
    • Business Services
    • Financial Services
  • Problem solving, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Metal, Engineering and Boating
    • Education
    • Children’s Education and Care
    • Community Sector and Development
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Business Services.

In addition to the two specific skills listed above, general analytical skills were also identified by the following industry sectors:

  • Civil Infrastructure
  • Financial Services.











Internet job postings

Problem solving skills are also highly sought after by employers, and were one of the top 10 most frequently requested employability skills in internet job postings across different industries and occupations from 2014 to 2017.

The chart below compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested problem solving skills. The percentage of all internet job postings that requested this skill is also included for comparison.

Internet job postings that requested problem solving skills, by occupation (2014-17) 

Source: Data supplied by Burning Glass Technologies (2018).

Case studies

Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure

The Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure industry consists of the five sectors listed below. Each identified analytical skills as a top priority for their workforce to better predict the future demand of particular resources and optimise current production.

  • Coal mining
  • Drilling
  • Metalliferous mining
  • Extractive industries
  • Civil infrastructure.

The need for analytical skills is highlighted by the following quote from the Mining, Drilling and Civil Infrastructure IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast:

Since the mining boom’s end, there has been a shift in focus away from expansion and opening new mines, toward efficiency gains and production… this trend emphasises the need for optimisation of operations, which requires analytical software integration and the skills to monitor and interpret the data effectively.

Financial Services

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

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



All sectors identified the need for analytical 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 2018 Skills Forecast:

Increased demand for customer centric roles, including the use of data analytics to customise financial products to better deliver to customers, remote customer assistance with technologies, and managerial roles.

Analytical skills and the ability to understand, clean and utilise big data to give companies a competitive edge and produce better, customised consumer products.

Updated: 31 Jan 2019
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