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Overview

This section provides a summary of five skills prioritised highly across IRC Skills Forecasts and the factors and trends which affect the demand for these skills.

These skills were identified from eleven skill areas by Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) in their 2018 Skills Forecasts. The skills set out in the Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training (update forthcoming) report have been used as a framework for organising these skill areas.

It is evident from the analysis that there is a huge industry demand for cross-sector skills such as adaptability, analytical, digital, and collaboration skills. Given the challenges that industry face due to factors such as structural change, economic cycles, changing markets, and emerging technology, these transferable cross-sector skills are critical for ensuring Australia's workforce can adapt to the ever-changing environment.  

In addition, industry and occupational-specific skills remain a priority for all industries, with many IRC Skills Forecasts identifying key technical skills in demand. Indeed, these specific skills for specific jobs remain an integral part of Australia's vocational education and training system.

For more detailed analysis on each of the eleven priority skill areas and industry demand please visit the Priority skills page. For more information on the factors driving demand for skills, please visit the Factors and trends page, and to find out about cross-sector projects and training package development work underway, please visit the Key initiatives page.

The five high priority skills are summarised below:

Adaptability skills

 

As digital technologies and job requirements evolve, workers must enhance their ability to adapt to new situations and acquire new skills. As the world of work becomes more flexible, individuals are expected to take more responsibility for their own skills development. 

Ranked first highest priority generic skill across all industries

Priority skills

Skills identified by IRCs

  • Adaptability, agility and flexibility in changing conditions
  • Active learning and engagement with training
  • Embracing new ways of working
  • Entrepreneurial skills
  • Innovative thinking.

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
  • Automation and robotics
  • Demand for care-related services and products
  • Digitisation and the ‘internet of things’
  • Emerging markets
  • Emerging technologies
  • High speed competition
  • Impact of climate change
  • Improved energy efficiency
  • International and domestic sustainability action
  • Political appetite for reform
  • Start-up thinking
  • Technologically advanced materials and products.

Analytical skills

 

Data is becoming increasingly available, with ‘big data’ derived from online activity, sensors, the ‘internet of things’, new analytical tools, and artificial intelligence. With this, comes an expectation that workers in almost all industries, and across most roles, will be able 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. It may perhaps also involve other skills, such as data management, information literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking and creative thinking. 

    Ranked second highest priority generic skill across all industries

     

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Creativity
    • Critical thinking
    • General analytical skills
    • Observation and monitoring
    • Problem solving.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
    • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
    • Big data and data analytics
    • Cross-disciplinary science
    • Digitisation and the ‘internet of things’
    • Start-up thinking.

    Digital skills

     

    In a world of rapid technological expansion affecting all industries, it is vital to have a workforce that’s agile, with the skills to drive and adapt to new technologies. Digital skills include coding and programming, development and use of robotic and automation technologies, leveraging ICT skills in business, and exploring the world of cloud computing and the 'internet of things'. 

    Ranked third highest priority generic skill across all industries

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Application design and development
    • Automation and robotics
    • Coding/programming skills
    • Digital literacy
    • Electronics
    • General digital skills
    • ICT skills
    • Using industry specific software or technologies.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Access to quality internet
    • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
    • Automation and robotics
    • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
    • Big data
    • Changing workplace dynamics
    • Cross-disciplinary science
    • Digitisation
    • Emerging markets
    • Emerging technology
    • High speed competition
    • Mobility and connectivity
    • Network working and producing 
    • Workforce vulnerability.

    Collaboration skills

     

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

    Ranked fourth highest priority generic skill across all industries

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Active listening
    • Communication skills
    • Community engagement
    • Conflict management
    • Cultural and global awareness
    • Customer service
    • Diversity and inclusion
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Relationship building
    • Social perceptiveness
    • Speaking
    • Social and interpersonal skills
    • Teamwork.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Access to quality internet
    • Behavioural economics and psychology
    • Changing work and career values
    • Changing workplace dynamics
    • Cross-disciplinary science
    • Demographic change
    • Emerging markets
    • Empowered customers
    • Global mobility
    • Knowledge-based economy
    • Mobility and connectivity
    • Network working and producing.

    Industry and occupation skills

     

    Industry and occupation skills refer to specific skills that various IRCs have identified as being a priority for their industry. These skills vary from industry to industry and they are unpacked further on the Priority skills page.

    Industry and occupation-specific skills are important in most industries

    Priority skills

    Skills identified by IRCs

    • Cross-industry skills and trades
    • Industry or occupation-specific skills
    • Industry or occupation-specific knowledge, including technical, product and market-related knowledge
    • Understanding and use of equipment or technology.

    Factors and trends

    Driving demand for skills

    • Ageing population
    • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
    • Changing work and career values
    • Changing workplace dynamics
    • Digitisation
    • Emerging markets
    • Emerging technologies
    • Global mobility
    • International and domestic sustainability action
    • Network working and producing
    • Skills mismatch
    • Workforce vulnerability.

    Updated: 17 Dec 2018
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