DO WE FULLY UNDERSTAND THE BROAD MIX OF WORKFORCE SKILLS NECESSARY FOR FUTURE SUCCESS?
BY SIMON HANN & SOPHIE LANYON
Three global forces are revolutionizing the way we work: automation, globalization and technology. The accelerating pace of technological, demographic and socio-economic disruption is transforming industries and business models and changing the skills that employers need. Job profiles are changing rapidly, and — according to the World Economic Forum (2016) — the most in-demand occupations today did not exist ten or even five years ago.
It prompts the question: what skills are important in the face of change and disruption?
Formal qualifications and technical skills are only part of the requirements for today’s workforce. The importance of soft skills is growing. Deloitte Access Economics (2017) forecasts that soft-skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, compared to half of all jobs in 2000. That’s a significant workforce change. Soft skills are important to drive business outcomes. Contributing to overall staff productivity,employees with more soft skills could increase business revenue by over $90,000, reports the Deloitte Access Economics, 2017. (This figure is based on an increase to the average Australian business revenue of $3 million as reported by the Australian Taxation Office for 2013-14 financial year.)
Does the workforce have the soft skills to foster business success now and in the future?
Based on a new analysis of résumés and job listings, by Deloitte Access Economics (2017), there appears to be a significant gap between job market demand and supply of soft skills. Demand exceeds supply by exceeding supply by 45 percent. In addition, less than 1 percent of Australian professionals list soft skills on their LinkedIn profile. Soft skills clearly are important for all occupations and industries, yet there appears to be a shortage of these skills.
Businesses in Australia spend a staggering $11 billion on employee training and staff recruitment annually, according to the Department of Employment (2016). On-the-job training — whether it be through workshops and courses, e-learning or traineeships — is seen by businesses as important in teaching both technical and soft skills. Furthermore, the abundance of information, resources and development programs at peoples’ fingertips means they can acquire knowledge or skills without formal training. The ability to develop skills will increasingly be on the individual; it has become an economic imperative for individuals to become lifelong learners.
If training, both formal and informal, is important to organizations, why is the gap significant? It can be difficult for business and individuals to objectively assess skill levels. The lack of formal confirmation of soft skills is playing a role in this gap as people don’t have the confidence to claim skills that they are not able to verify.
CLOSING THE GAP
This is where recognizing soft skills with micro-credentials will enable businesses to identify gaps in their organization and, ultimately, make informed strategic decisions on how to effectively invest in building their workforce capability in the years to come.
Micro-credentials underpin a culture of empowered and motivated learning while at the same time increasing employee engagement through recognition. It is not part of a learning strategy — it is part of a business performance strategy. In the future of work, the most essential factor for an individual and his or her future potential is the ability to adapt and expand personal knowledge and skills. Micro-credentials can be the recognition and transportable symbol of capabilities in action which individuals and businesses will use to navigate the future world of work in the digital age. Micro-credentials are available from various organizations, including DeakinCo., Udacity and Coursera.
—Simon Hann is the CEO of both DeakinCo. and DeakinPrime, backed by Deakin University in Australia. In his roles, he is passionate about exploring the impact of digital disruption on the workforce and providing businesses with solutions to prepare for the future. Sophie Lanyon is the Product Engagement Specialist at DeakinCo. To find out more about DeakinCo. please visit deakinco.