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Business and compliance skills:


Business and compliance skills encompass the broad range of capabilities required to run a successful business, to understand relevant regulatory requirements and to maintain compliance.

Though there are many business skills required to be a successful business leader, key skills may include sound financial and project management skills, the ability to plan, and effectively manage resources. Understanding the regulatory environment in which the industry is operating is also necessary, to ensure that the company adheres to industry standards and rules, follows internal compliance guidelines, and maintains dialogue with regulatory bodies for the industry. 

In 2019/2020 a Supply Chain Skills cross sector project was commissioned by the AISC. Its goal was to examine the implications of major changes underway across, and within, supply chains due to the impact of automation, robotics, big data and other new technologies. The project resulted in ten new skill sets and sixteen units of competency being developed and approved for supply chain skills which are common to a range of industry sectors.

COVID-19 impact

Lockdowns and border closures imposed in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19, compounded by panic buying of some goods, presented numerous challenges in supply chain management, requiring skills in identifying risks. It was also reported by the National Australia Bank (NAB) that some businesses are rethinking ‘just-in-time’ inventory management and are paying suppliers sooner to ensure supply.

Skills in workplace health and safety have also become a priority, with both workers and customers becoming responsible for mitigating the risks of exposure to the virus. Cross-sector infection control skill sets with contextual advice for 10 industry sectors were endorsed in July 2020 to enable current and future employees to upskill in managing these risks.

Health and Safety skills were also acknowledged in the Offshore Oil and Gas Safety Review: Policy Framework, which found the pandemic has emphasised the importance of managing physical and mental health impacts for workers, and notes the need for businesses to have proactive mental health strategies in place to ensure workers’ overall wellbeing.

The Australian, State and Territory governments have recognised small business owners and their employees may need additional support to strengthen their business skills as a result of the pandemic, and have introduced a number of programs through their COVID-19 recovery plans and budgets. The Australian Government Department of Business has also provided a website to help businesses cope with the changed conditions and compliance regulations, including information on business planning, government funding reducing cyber security risks and updating policy, procedures and processes.

The National Skills Commission’s Impacts of COVID-19 on Businesses report found that proportion of businesses affected a great deal by COVID-19 has decreased significantly since April 2020, with the most common impact of COVID-19 on businesses in July 2021 being the need to change their business practices.

In response to the pandemic accelerating digitisation across the economy, the media release Digital Training for Australian Directors announced the Australian Government had launched a new training program designed to lift the digital literacy of company directors. The training comprises 10 online modules that cover topics such as modern competitive business practices, digital risk and compliance and digital investment strategy.

Industry skills needs

2020 Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) finds for Australia’s country profile, the skills identified as being in high demand by the organisations surveyed were:

  • Leadership and social influence – ranked number 4
  • Complex problem-solving – ranked number 7
  • Reasoning, problem-solving and ideation – number 13
  • Quality control and safety awareness – number 14.

In addition, Leadership and social influence, and Quality control and safety awareness were also identified in the top 10 list of skills currently in focus of across reskilling/upskilling programmes. The report also lists Business Management as a specialised skill of the future, which is in demand across multiple emerging professions (People and Culture, Marketing, Product Development and Sales).

The National Skills Commission’s report State of Australia’s Skills 2021: Now and Into the Future found across the economy most employed people (80%) require skills in the business operations and financial skill cluster family to perform their job.

A 2021 Infrastructure Australia report reveals the shortage of project management professionals is anticipated to peak at 19,000 at some point in the next three years, with over 40 per cent of the current infrastructure workforce likely to retire over the next 15 years. This challenge is greatest for project management professionals and structures and civil trades and labour, both of which have more than 40 per cent of workers over the age of 45. While new entrants will join the sector, the loss of experience will be significant.

The Hays article The Most In-Demand Skills in 2022 lists IT Project Managers as the top in-demand skill that companies need nationally, with successful candidates to work within agile frameworks, have exceptional communication skills and bridge the gap between stakeholders and non-technical experts. This is supported by the BetterUp blog 8 Hard and Soft Skills a Project Manager Should Have, which lists the top three hard skills required as a project manager as Negotiation, Relevant technical skills, and Writing skills, and the top three soft skills listed as Communication skills, Leadership skills and Motivation skills.

According to the Australian Industry Standards report Industry Outlook 2021: ESI Generation Industry Reference Committee, workers are required to be aware of the latest regulatory and compliance issues regarding the implementation, operation, and maintenance of emerging renewables technologies such as Carbon Capture and Storage, battery storage, and demand management.

The podcast Business View Podcast: 2020 in focus – leadership and resilience discussed how businesses’ leadership skills are critical to taking advantage of emerging opportunities. These skills include sound financial skills, resilience, planning skills and decision-making skills. Communication skills and compassion to their workforce also rated highly.


Some specific examples of business and compliance skills that industries have identified as important include:
  • Compliance, identified by the following industries and sectors:

    • Financial Services
    • Local Government
    • Specialised Business Services
    • Sport
  • Health and Safety, identified by the following industries and sectors:

    • Business services (Business Administration and Governance)
    • Health
    • Maritime
    • Sport, Fitness and Recreation
    • Tourism, Travel and Hospitality
  • Project/program management, identified by the following industries and sectors:

    • Civil Infrastructure
    • Utilities (Gas)
  • Risk management, identified by the following industries and sectors:

    • Defence
    • Events
    • Insurance and Superannuation
    • Local Government
    • Specialised Business Services
    • Tourism and Travel.


Internet job postings

Internet job vacancy postings that contained requests for business and compliance skills were examined for occupational trends. This includes experience in planning and prioritising tasks, preparing business presentations and organisational skills. The chart below compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested business and compliance skills.

Internet job postings that requested business and compliance skills, by occupation (2018-21) 

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

Business and compliance skills were most often requested for managers, and clerical and administrative workers, and were least often requested for machinery operators and drivers, and labourers. Sales workers and Professionals also had higher rates of these skills requested.

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

Skills in this area are often more relevant to those working in management positions or who are otherwise asked to input on business project controls and budgets. Many job postings reference the need for experience working within a business environment.

Case study


The Transport industry plays a key role in enabling Australia’s economic activity. Without the capacities and capabilities provided by the Transport industry, no passengers or freight would move. The industry comprises four sectors:

  • Transport and Logistics
  • Maritime
  • Rail
  • Aviation.


The need for work health and safety, and compliance skills (or a combination of both) were identified in the Industry Outlooks for the Transport sector, and is highlighted by the following quotes:

The pandemic has highlighted the significance of health and safety issues. The workforce needs to be abreast of the latest health and safety regulations and updates to ensure operations are conducted seamlessly and safely. Trainers need to ensure the workforce has the competency and capacity to conduct their duty safely in compliance with regulations.  (Rail IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook)

Safety and compliance are of utmost importance in the Aviation industry. To this end, regulations are updated to ensure ongoing safety. The workforce will need to maintain their current skills to ensure safety and compliance in Flight Operations, Flight Training and Ground Operations. (Aviation IRC’s 2021 Industry Outlook)

Updated: 01 Apr 2022
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