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Insights and highlights

Overview

This section provides a summary of five skills that were highly prioritised by industry, the factors and trends which affect the demand for these skills, and key initiatives underway which aim to address skills needs.

Drawing on information from the Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Skills Forecasts and Industry Outlooks from 2021, alongside other relevant industry literature, this section identifies which skill areas were prioritised by industries. The skills set out in the Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training 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 ever-evolving challenges that industry face due to factors such as structural change, economic cycles, changing markets, emerging technologies, and the impacts of a global pandemic, 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 industries identifying key technical skills in demand. 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.

Five skills that were highly prioritised by industry are summarised below.

Adaptability skills

As emerging technologies and changing job requirements constantly create demand for skills, workers must enhance their ability to adapt to new situations and acquire new skills. In addition, as the world of work becomes more flexible, individuals are expected to take more responsibility for their own skill development.

Priority skills

Skills identified by industry

  • Being adaptable to changes
  • Changing skill needs arising from new technologies
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Self-management.

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning
  • Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality
  • Automation and robotics
  • Big data and data analytics
  • Demand for care-related services and products
  • Demographic changes
  • Digitalisation and the ‘internet of things’
  • Emerging markets
  • Emerging technologies
  • Empowered customers, and changing work and career values
  • Globalisation and its impact on mobility, migration and international markets
  • Complex regulatory environment
  • Increasing participation by equity groups
  • International and domestic sustainability action
  • Policy environment
  • Political appetite for reform
  • Skills mismatch, shortages or gaps
  • Technologically advanced materials and products.

 

COVID-19 impact

Adaptability was a key skill used in response to the pandemic, shown by:

  • Education providers rapidly deploying online instruction and students transitioning to online learning
  • Industry responses to border closures that restricted fly-in-fly-out work arrangements, skilled migration and business travel.
  • High compliance rates from businesses and citizens to COVID-19 government directions.
  • The volume of businesses that reported successful transitions to remote working.

Adaptability skills (including self-management and flexibility) will remain highly regarded due to the unpredictable nature of COVID-19. These skills will be vital as industry implements further changes in response to the pandemic and attempts to take advantage of any opportunities that may be presented.

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.

Priority skills

Skills identified by industry

  • Communication skills
  • Conflict resolution
  • Cultural and global awareness
  • Customer service
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Relationship management
  • Social perceptiveness and competence
  • Teamwork.

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Access to quality internet
  • Changing work and career values
  • Changing workplace dynamics
  • Demographic change
  • Digitalisation of the workplace
  • Emerging markets
  • Global mobility
  • Growing demand for care-related services and products
  • Increased participation by equity groups
  • Innovation ahead of regulation
  • Sustainability action, driving the demand for more sustainable products and services
  • Technological change.

 

COVID-19 impact

  • Virtual collaboration became the ‘new normal’, involving a massive increase in the uptake of digital collaboration tools and rapid upskilling for workers.
  • Strong teamwork skills and emotional intelligence were vital as people transitioned to new ways of working and studying.
  • Communication skills were key to successful relationship building and management with customers, and messaging from leaders and between colleagues.

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 also involve other skills, such as data management, information literacy, problem-solving, critical thinking, and creative thinking.

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Priority skills

Skills identified by industry

  • Analytical thinking
  • Complex problem solving
  • Creativity, and creative problem solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Data analysis
  • Diagnosis, analysis and evaluation skills
  • General analytical skills
  • Identifying, locating, interpreting and evaluating information
  • Innovation.

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
  • Digitalisation and the ‘internet of things’
  • Emerging technologies
  • Start-up thinking.

 

COVID-19 impact

  • A key impact generated by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rapid digitalisation in the way businesses deliver their products and services this trend has driven demand for data analysis skills
  • The pandemic has also created demand for problem-solving skills as industries have grappled with challenges such as supply chain issues and disruption in normal services.

Digital skills

 

In a world of rapid technological expansion affecting all industries, it is vital to have an agile workforce, with the skills to drive and adapt to modern 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'.

Priority skills

Skills identified by industry

  • Automated design
  • Coding and programming
  • Cyber security skills
  • Data analysis
  • Digital literacy
  • Digital skills relating to industry specific software and technology
  • Information and communication technology skills
  • Understanding and working with automation.

Factors and trends

Driving demand for skills

  • Access to quality internet
  • Artificial Intelligence and machine learning
  • Automation and robotics
  • Big data and data analytics
  • Changing workplace dynamics
  • Digitisation and ‘Internet of Things’
  • Emerging or changing markets
  • Emerging technology
  • Empowered customers
  • Increase in jobs requiring computer skills
  • Mobility and connectivity
  • More technologically advanced materials and products.

 

COVID-19 impact

Digital skills have been vital as Australian businesses adapted to new ways of working considering the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • A decade of digital transformation was achieved within a few months.
  • Changes in the way businesses operate have driven advances in technology
  • With increased government assistance for upskilling and reskilling in digital skill areas.
  • Increase in remote working arrangements
  • Endorsement of new skill sets for the ICT sector and small business.

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 industry

  • 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

  • Attracting and retaining a workforce
  • Automation and robotics
  • Big data and data analytics
  • Demographic changes, and their impact on workforce and markets (adaptability)
  • Digitisation and the Internet of Things
  • Emerging or changing markets
  • Emerging technologies
  • Policy environment
  • Complex regulatory environment
  • Skills mismatch, shortages or gaps
  • Sustainability action, driving the demand for more sustainable products and services.

 

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic amplified industry specific and cross-industry skills demand in particular areas including:

  • artificial intelligence, data science, cloud computing, Internet of Things, robotics, and cybersecurity
  • web development, customer experience and social media skills
  • supply chain management
  • health and safety, particularly infection control
  • risk management and strategic planning.
Updated: 01 Apr 2022
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