What the experts say - Australia

Australia is recognising the need for strong soft skills

Soft skills are defined as driving collaboration, emotional intelligence and communication – the things that facilitate interactions between people. The single most important soft skill is communication.

Technical (hard) skills and knowledge are essential for a business to do its job well, but organisations are finally realising that soft skills drive performance. Soft skills are the new drivers of business performance and growth.

LinkedIn reports that training for soft skills is the #1 priority for talent development in 2019.

Soft-skill intensive occupations are expected to account for two-thirds (63%) of all jobs in Australia by 2030, yet there is a significant skills shortage in the Australian market. If your staff can’t communicate, your company won’t win new business or maintain customers.

Australian soft skill trends...

What HR leaders are prioritising in 2021

Coca-Cola Amatil people and culture director Kate Mason says that like many businesses, hers had to adjust in 2020 in response to COVID-19, "and we're fortunate that we were able to do this from a position of strength".

"As we head into 2021, we can expect to see further volatility across our geographies, and so our priority from a HR perspective is to support the business in playing to its strengths, ensuring our people are engaged and thriving, and that we're well-positioned to capitalise on the exciting opportunities ahead."

Mason says Coca-Cola Amatil's three key priorities are:

  • Safety 
  • Leadership 
  • Skills for today and tomorrow 

HR Daily 

CIO hiring process to favour emotional intelligence in 2021

Individual determination and sensitivity will become key factors in the CIO hiring process, according to Gartner, Inc. A recent survey revealed that CIOs who look to develop emotional dexterity in the digital era can improve their self-awareness, self-management and relationships during times of crisis by committing to practising self-improvement techniques....

“Interestingly, all surveyed CIOs spend an average of 30 minutes daily in learning and development, indicating it is not the quantity, but the quality of time spent on focusing on the right behaviours that is important,” said Rob O’Donohue, senior research director at Gartner.

Transparency was the most commonly admired emotional dexterity leadership competency, followed by authentic communications and collaboration. Above-average-performing CIOs are more likely to develop others through coaching and mentoring than low-performing CIOs (60% versus 48%). 

In a 1:1 setting with their direct reports, high-performing CIOs said that up to 74% of their time is spent listening, rather than directing.

Technology Decisions

The skills you need to succeed in 2021

The soft skills to succeed

COVID-19 may have accelerated the future of work, but it's also pushed the fast forward button on the skills that will be in hot demand in 2021.

Along with strong digital skills, professionals who have strong analytical and interpersonal skills and a willingness to learn will be the ones who prosper in 2021, according to Mason.

Ben Thompson, chief executive of people management platform Employment Hero, anticipates soft skills like communication, flexibility, teamwork, emotional intelligence and empathy will be in high demand as workplaces look to recover from the pandemic.

"Although we are seeing signs of a COVID-recovery, the next few years are still going to be tough for people and businesses in many ways," he says.

"From a leadership standpoint, communication skills will be vital as we adjust to more flexible modes of work. Without solid communication frameworks, leaders will struggle here."

Financial Review 

These are the most important work skills to have in 2021, according to a careers expert

Managing Director at Adecco Australia, Kelly Van Nelson, explained to Business Insider that an ever-shifting work environment can be attributed to skill-loss.

Depending on the industry you’re in, or are looking to get into, the term ‘skills’ can appear quite broad, as each industry requires niche expertise that might not necessarily transfer over to another field. However, Van Nelson believes there are three skills that are applicable to any field you go into — soft skills, agility and resilience.

“Soft skills are extremely favourable across all areas of work. Across industries, hiring managers are always looking for candidates with excellent communication skills, problem-solving skills, and the ability to work to deadlines,” Van Nelson asserts.

Business Insider Australia

“We risk being left behind”

Why the $2.5 billion training gap is bad news for Aussie businesses.,.Australian businesses are underspending on training and risk falling behind international competitors if investment in human skills is not increased, economists have warned.

“[Investment] seems to be the wrong way around, particularly when a greater share of human capital in the workplace is really linked to these human skills,” Rumbens says....“There’s been a greater focus on investing in new technology … the best way to utilise new technology is also to invest in people skills at the same time.


Soft skills for business success

Australian workforce has a strong soft-skill base, yet demands for soft skills still exceeds supply by up to 45%. 

Soft-skill intensive occupations expected to account for two-thirds (63%) of all jobs in Australia by 2030, according to the report Soft skills for business success report by Deloitte Access Economics. company.

Deakin University

Nothing soft about the key skills

The Boston Consulting Group's global practice leader, digital and technology transformation in the public sector, Miguel Carrasco says of his own organisation: "We've always recruited for soft skills. Domain expertise is something you acquire over time by working in the same industry.

"The demand for expertise is as strong as ever so we won't see technical domain skills replaced by soft skills but perhaps what we're seeing in the broader economy is the elevation of some of the soft skills as not greater but of equal importance as other skills."

Australian Financial Review

The tech talent shortage is real 

With Australia requiring an extra 100,000 tech workers by 2024, Infosys’s VP of Australia and NZ, Ashok Mysore, said the ever-shifting technology landscape is making it harder to maintain a viable talent pool.

For Australia to be a competitive player in the world economy, our policymakers, businesses, workers and communities need to work better together to address the challenges of technology-related skills, investment and collaboration.”

ACS InformationAge

Technology is already replacing the need for some hard skills such as accounting, mathematics, administrative capabilities, and more. 

Instead, the future workplace will require workers to have essential soft skills including critical thinking, adaptability, cultural understanding, and a self-starting drive to innovate and learn. 

This will help them acquire and use hard skills as needed, then pivot to new skills as the workforce and technologies continue to evolve.

Inside Small Business 

CEOs agree they need to strengthen the soft skills of employees

The task of retraining talent goes beyond digital upskilling with 87% of Australia’s CEOs agreeing or strongly agreeing that they need to strengthen the soft skills of employees alongside their digital skills.

Australia’s CEOs recognise this ongoing reskilling responsibility (54%, versus 67% of CEOs globally) and agree that they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose tasks and jobs are automated by technology. Change is here and 75% of Australia’s CEOs (and 79% globally) are concerned about the availability of key skills. 

PwC Australia

Hard questions on soft skills

By 2030, soft skill intensive occupations are predicted to make up almost two thirds of all Australian jobs (up from just over half in 2000). 

Employer demand for soft skills is reportedly increasing and research indicates that shortages already exist in the Australian workforce.

Deloitte Australia

Insufficient training is causing employees to quit 

Insufficient training is causing one in three employees to quit, according to LinkedIn, which also identified a “misalignment” between employers and workers on their approach to professional development. 

The professional networking platform surveyed 1,033 Australian employees and 217 development professionals)  learning and development (L&D) professionals across Australia, India, Japan and Singapore.