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Collaboration skills:


Interpersonal skills are highly sought after in many industries. Those able to collaborate and share information are best able to adapt to changing markets and technologies, interact in diverse workplaces, and effectively respond to customer needs.

As organisations become increasingly dynamic and horizontally structured, collaboration skills are needed across all types of roles, to help businesses improve efficiency and achieve organisational goals.

Communication and collaboration tools will evolve, and Australian workers will need to be skilled in new media literacies, for example communication through social media.

Skills that enhance collaboration include communication and teamwork skills, active listening, relationship management, and social and cultural awareness.

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

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

Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social received an average ranking of 4th (out of 12) across all skills forecasts.

Priority skills

Collaboration skills were also identified to a high degree by industries that reported on priority skills in their 2018 Skills Forecasts


The collaboration skills identified most frequently were:
  • Active listening, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Ambulance and Paramedic
    • Client Services
    • Community Sector and Development
    • Dental
    • Fitness
    • Hospitality
    • Personal Services
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Technicians Support Services
    • Tourism and Travel
  • Social perceptiveness, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Client Services
    • Community Sector and Development
    • Fitness
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Hospitality
    • Personal Services
    • Tourism and travel
  • Speaking, identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Client Services
    • Community Sector and Development
    • Cookery
    • Fitness
    • Personal services
    • Retail and Wholesale
    • Tourism and travel
  • General collaboration and communication skills, were also identified by the following industry sectors:

    • Children’s Education and Care
    • Direct Client Care and Support
    • Government
    • Information and Communications Technology
    • Metal, Engineering and Boating
    • Property Services.


Internet job postings

Teamwork and collaboration 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 teamwork and collaboration skills. The percentage of all internet job postings that requested this skill is also included for comparison.

Internet job postings that requested teamwork and collaboration skills, by occupation (2014-17)

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

Furthermore, communication, an essential skill for effective collaboration, was the most frequently requested employability skill. See the below chart showing the percentage of internet job postings requesting communication skills between 2014 and 2017 for each ANZSCO Major Group.

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

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

Case studies

Direct Client Care and Support

Direct Client Care and Support workers care for, and support, people who are in vulnerable situations such as those in aged or home care, or living with a disability, mental illness, dementia, a chronic condition, terminal illness or an alcohol or drug-related problem.

The Direct Client Care and Support subsectors are not mutually exclusive in the services they provide, and increasingly the collaboration of people across subsectors is a critical element in individual care and support plans.

A research study authored by the Australian Council of Educational Research (ACER) on behalf of the South Australian Department of State Development, looks at what employers really want in the early childhood and aged care sectors, found that in both sectors they were looking for people that can connect and work with others.

The following quotes from the Direct Client Care and Support IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast highlight the importance of collaboration skills for the sector workforce:

The collaboration and partnership across a range of services with the advent of NDIS [National Disability Insurance Scheme], and with new technologies that support the integration of services, means that direct client care and support workers will need to develop knowledge and understanding, of a diverse range of services and the linkages between them, to support holistic care solutions for clients.

A focus on recovery orientation in mental health support is underpinned by national and state activity……collaborative planning and effective high-level communication skills are required to work effectively with a range of community stakeholders.

There is a need for improved collaboration between training providers, including universities, TAFEs and medical colleges, to ensure that training requirements for the health care workers of the future are met, including the ability to work in an interdisciplinary team.


The Public Sector comprises federal and state/territory governments, statutory bodies and state-owned corporations. Public Sector employees play a key role in the development, review and implementation of government policies and provide an array of services for the community.

Many public service agencies work with federal, state and territory counterparts to deliver policy outcomes and services to the Australian people. Cross-agency forums and the sharing of information to achieve effective outcomes requires a high level of collaboration across the public-sector workforce.

The quotes below sourced from the Public Sector IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast, demonstrate the importance of collaboration skills for the Government sector workforce, including the ability to communicate and collaborate in a digital forum:

Interpersonal, collaborative and 'soft skills' including communication, teamwork, problem solving, emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship are valued in respect to internal operations, as well as the public interface and dealings with external parties.

There are workforce strategies in place which address measures to recruit, support and collaborate with diverse groups of workers including women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Workers will need the ability to use digital technology routinely in parts of their jobs in order to access and use information and digital content; and communicate and collaborate through digital technologies.

Updated: 17 Dec 2018
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