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Digital skills:


The current explosion in new technologies is reinventing much of the way businesses are run. This has significant implications for the workforce, which needs to evolve and be agile to keep up with this technological expansion.

Digital skills, which are becoming increasingly important and a priority for many industries, can include:

  • coding and programming
  • developing and using robotic and automation technologies
  • leveraging information and communication technologies (ICT) skills in business
  • exploring the world of cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

The Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) is in the process of establishing an Industry 4.0 Industry Reference Committee, to help ensure vocational education and training gives students the future-focussed skills they will need, as workplaces become radically transformed by increased automation and digitalisation.

There are currently five AISC cross-sector projects relating to the impact of technological advances on the workforce. They aim to address common skills needs, minimise duplication and consolidate existing training units. Projects consider:


  • developing Digital skills across industries
  • the workforce skilling implications in relation to the use of Automation, namely robotics, drones and remote operation systems
  • the implications of the major change underway across and within Supply chains due to the impact of automation, robotics, big data and other new technologies
  • current and emerging developments in Cyber security skills, particularly in relation to data confidentiality, protection and privacy, and identifying related skills needs shared by multiple industry sectors
  • providing an evidence-based case and industry support for developing vocational training in Big data and big data analytics skills that can be transferable across multiple industries.

Industry skills needs

Generic skills

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




Technology use and application skills (which aligns with Digital skills) received an average ranking of 3rd (out of 12) across all skills forecasts


Priority skills

Digital skills were also identified to a moderate degree by industries that reported on priority skills in their 2018 Skills Forecasts.

The digital skills identified by the industry skills forecasts could be split broadly into two main categories:

  • Digital skills relating to industry specific software or technology, identified by the following industries:

    • Sustainability
    • Furnishing
    • Civil Infrastructure
    • Maritime
    • Education
    • Children’s Education and Care
    • Financial Services
  • General digital skills and literacy, identified by the following industries:

    • Electricity Supply Generation
    • Water
    • Transport and Logistics.
    • Direct Client Care and Support
    • Public Sector
    • Business Services
    • Information and Communications Technology
    • Property Services.


Internet job postings

Digital skills are also highly sought after by employers when recruiting new workers. In particular, computer skills have been one of the top 10 most frequently requested skills in internet job postings across different industries and occupations from 2014 to 2017.

The following chart compares the percentage of internet job postings in each occupation (ANZSCO Major Group) that requested computer skills. It shows that computer skills were requested most frequently for the occupation of Machinery operators and drivers. The percentage of all internet job postings that requested this skill is also included for comparison. 

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

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

Case studies

Transport and Logistics

The Transport and Logistics sector in Australia employs nearly half a million people across its major subsectors:

  • Road transport
  • Logistics
  • Warehousing and stevedoring

The Transport and Logistics IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast highlights, that the industry is rapidly being affected by new technologies and innovations, requiring the workforce to be equipped with the necessary digital skills.

The following quotes below from the Transport and Logistics IRC Skills Forecast demonstrate why digital skills have been highlighted as a priority in this industry sector.

The advent of Industry 4.0 (the next industrial revolution incorporating complex computerised systems, data and software to create ‘smart’ processes and products) will rapidly change the skill needs of the Transport and Logistics workforce. Jobs that were highly manual less than a generation ago, including bus and truck driving, are being reshaped with new technologies and equipment.

The ever-increasing volume of data being captured by sensors and subject[ed] to analysis, is further transforming the skill needs of the Transport and Logistics industry, greatly increasing the demand for the workforce to be able to interpret and analyse this data in a meaningful, digitally literate manner.

Direct Client Care and Support

Direct Client Care and Support workers care for and support people in vulnerable situations, and this industry sector includes a variety of industry sub-sectors such as:

  • Aged and home care
  • Disability
  • Mental health
  • Alcohol and other drugs
  • Leisure and health
  • Allied health assistance
  • Health services assistance
  • Health support services.

The Direct Client Care and Support IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast identifies ‘digital literacy’ and ‘competency in using different technology platforms’ as essential skills for the future industry workforce. This is highlighted in the following quotes taken from the forecast:

Digital health technology is becoming more integrated in health service delivery, the workforce will need the required skills to adapt to the changes in technology to support service delivery.

For workers within the sectors under the purview of this IRC, digital literacy skills will be important in order to maintain knowledge and skills in an evolving digital age. For example, the analysis of patterns and trends from big data will require more advanced digital literacy skills to interpret and provide information that has a direct impact on the quality of client care (Direct Client Care and Support IRC).

Updated: 19 Dec 2018
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