Recent research conducted by Manpower indicates we are in the middle of a ‘skills revolution’, both in Australia and around the world. With digital transformation happening within most organisations, and technology evolving rapidly, the types of skills employees need are ever-changing. So what will the most in-demand skills be and how do you ensure you have them?
With the necessary skills changing at a rapidly increasing pace, most employers are reporting that they cannot find the talent they need. The people in demand are those that seek to continuously learn and adapt.
A recent Manpower survey asked 20,000 employers across 42 countries (with more than 1,500 participating companies from Australia) about the likely impact of automation on their headcount, the functions that will be most affected, and the human skills they value the most. The results indicate that automation is mostly a good thing for employees (as long as you have the right skills). While many companies agree that no one is immune from digitisation as more and more industries shift to advanced, automated processes, most employers expect their companies to grow rather than shrink – and the need for additional people – especially those with good IT skills to drive transformation – is real.
Labour market predictions often talk about the long-term extremes where technology will erode jobs – with robots replacing roles and even the threat of a world without work. However, this recent research indicates a different future, while providing a real-time view of the impact of automation on the workforce in the digital age – now and in the near-term. It shows which functions within companies are set to grow or contract. And it provides insight on the value of soft skills – or human strengths – that are in demand by employers but that are challenging to find.
The most in-demand individuals have a blend of human strengths with technical and digital know-how. 8 out of 10 companies say communication skills, written and verbal, is their most valued soft skill. We’ve identified several other skills we think will be important for individuals to succeed.
- Complex problem-solving skills – with increasingly complex problems that include incomplete, contradictory or ever-evolving requirements, threats and trends – people who can solve problems with viable solutions will be in demand.
- Critical thinking – this can be defined as the objective analysis of facts to form a judgement. Often the subject is complex and requires analysis or evaluation of vast amounts of information. In today’s ‘information age’, data is present everywhere – with companies collecting huge amounts of data about everything their customers do on a day-to-day basis. Being able to leverage and effectively utilise this data for competitive advantage is a key skill to possess.
- Creativity and innovation – competition is fierce today across most industries, budgets are tight and doing things the way they’ve always been done doesn’t cut it. Having the ability to think outside the box to achieve success is a top skill to possess.
- Collaboration – working well with others and appreciating the input from different team members is essential in today’s work environment. Human interaction in the workplace will become more and more important as computers and robots take over certain tasks. Being able to work together to leverage individual’s strengths while being aware of weaknesses and adapting to address these will be important.
- Leadership – regardless of how much an organisation and its day-to-day operations become ‘automated’, employees will remain at the heart. Being able to develop strong relationships with employees and successfully lead teams is important. Listening carefully to understand concerns; identifying ways you can help them become more efficient, effective and enthusiastic; and developing and maintaining strong ongoing professional relationships is key. Good leaders consistently provide support and show their team they are there for them. It is more vital than ever for future leaders to know how to motivate teams, maximise productivity and respond quickly and effectively to needs.
- Service orientation – digitisation, technological advancements, and increasing competition means customers will be picky – and rightly so. Customers can choose who to do business with and they can change that decision as often as they like. It’s no longer as difficult as it once might have been to switch suppliers or move to a different brand. People who make customer experience a priority, anticipating customer needs, and designing products and solutions to meet those needs, will be in demand.
As our workplaces continue to rapidly evolve, it’s clear that we need to develop new skills if we’re going to keep pace with change. Employers will begin to rely more and more on people with the desire and ability to develop new skills. Employability today is becoming less about what you already know and more about your capacity to learn.
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For many 2017 school leavers, the beginning of their first university, college or TAFE semester is looming. If you have already secured your place – congratulations! If not, good luck in the next couple of rounds. Wherever you’re at, you might be feeling a range of different emotions. We’ve put together some tips to help you get off to a smooth start.
Attending university, college or TAFE straight from school can be daunting, but it’s also an exciting time. For many students, leaving the comfort and structure of school is challenging. You may not know anyone and go from seeing your friends every day to potentially having to make new friends. In addition, lecturers and tutors don’t generally chase you for your work, check up on your progress, or worry about whether or not you’ve attended their lectures. That’s up to you. Here’s our tips for ensuring a smooth start and surviving that first semester:
- Get yourself to class – this isn’t high school and no one is going to really care if you don’t turn up to lectures. You need to motivate yourself to do that.
- Don’t be afraid to change – just because you start a particular course doesn’t mean you’re bound to complete it. Many students just don’t enjoy their initial choice. You’re better off exploring your options sooner rather than later. Speak to a student adviser – you may be able to re-structure your units to avoid a transfer, or if you decide to transfer they can advise you how to go about it.
- Get organised – keep on top of work and study otherwise you may face significant stress during the hectic end of semester period. By establishing a routine early on, you’ll better balance your studies, social life and work commitments. Decide when you’ll study each week and try to stick to it. Review your schedule each week and ensure you’ve allowed enough time for revision and assignment preparation.
- Learn to learn – it’s important to become an independent learner. Your study is going to be more self-driven than before. No one is going to remind you about homework or assignments so keep track of due dates and manage your workload to ensure success.
- Ask for help – lectures and classes can be intimidating, sometimes with hundreds of people all sitting in the one room, but you should never be ashamed to ask for help. Most universities and TAFEs have great websites where you may find the answer to your question, otherwise student support services provide counselling, financial and academic advice; or your lecturers, tutors and fellow classmates are usually only too happy to help!
- Use your free time wisely – this is especially important if you have large breaks during on-campus days. Rather than leaving, stay on site and visit the library or use the time to read / study / complete assignments etc. The earlier you complete things, the less stress you’ll face later. Keeping up with deadlines and reviewing your notes as you go is a great way to utilise any breaks between lectures. If you have a late start, rather than sleeping in, set the alarm and get up early to review your notes or do some exercise.
- Stay healthy – by eating well, getting enough sleep, and ensuring you fit in some exercise. This is important to ensure you don’t become burnt out. If you’re finding it hard to maintain your regular fitness regime, investigate what’s available on campus or team up with new friends to organise walks or runs during breaks. Try going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, and use bulk meal preparation to ensure you always have healthy food on hand that isn’t time consuming to prepare.
- Budget – you’ve probably increased your expenses since school with socialising, a car, and possibly even rent. This means budgeting is important – buy second hand books (then sell them once you’ve finished with them), take advantage of student discounts, take your lunch from home, and swap expensive social activities for cheaper ones. Don’t forget to take advantage of all the student discounts and freebies on offer as well.
- Make time for yourself – you know the drill, all work and no play isn’t the best idea so whether you take time out to relax, exercise or socialise – you need some downtime. It will help you concentrate better when you are studying.
- Get involved – university and TAFE campuses are often huge places with thousands of people, so you might need to get a little out of your comfort zone. Join a club or group of like-minded people and you might meet your new best friend! At the very least, getting involved on campus will help you settle in and activities or groups that align with your area of study will look great on your resume.
Most importantly enjoy and make the most of this time. Learning to manage your new schedule and demands will help make the transition to tertiary study smoother. Take advantage of all the resources available to you and enjoy meeting new friends.
Are you interested in obtaining some career advice. If so, our career advisors are experts in their field. If you would like some direction, please see our Career Counselling Services.