Australian workforce has a strong soft-skill base, yet demand for soft skills still exceeds supply by up to 45%.
Digital disruption, globalisation and demographic shifts are shaping Australia’s future skill needs, with soft-skill intensive occupations expected to account for two-thirds (63%) of all jobs in Australia by 2030, according to the Soft skills for business success report by Deloitte Access Economics.
The report, commissioned by workforce professional development provider DeakinCo., analyses the importance of obtaining and measuring soft skills to better understand areas that need to be improved in the Australian workforce and businesses.
Jobs requiring soft skills – which are also referred to as employability skills, enterprise skills and transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship – are projected to grow 2.5 times faster than other occupations where the need for soft skills is less intensive over the period to 2030.
“As the lines between professions and industries get blurred, soft skills will become the new job currency. It is essential for businesses to invest in developing and measuring soft skills of their people in order to future-proof their operations. Contributing to overall staff productivity, employees with more soft skills could increase business revenue by over $90,000 and enable our nation’s economy to thrive now and in the future,” says report author and Deloitte Access Economics partner John O’Mahony.
Attainment of soft skills in Australia
New data from LinkedIn shows that Australians have high soft skill attainment levels compared to other countries, with Australians three times more likely to list problem solving as a skill on their LinkedIn account than the global average.
Similarly, they are more than twice as likely to list digital literacy, innovation, and communication as the average, and almost twice as likely to include self-management and professional ethics. While the analysis highlights that soft skills are 9 times more likely to be endorsed compared to a technical skill on LinkedIn, less than 1% of Australians report having any soft skills on their LinkedIn profiles. This under-reporting is found to be consistent globally.
Businesses in Australia increasingly advertise soft skills as a key job criteria
Analysis from the report points out that businesses in Australia recognise the importance of soft skills, as evident from the roles with specific soft skills they advertise.
Based on a new analysis of over 175,000 resumes and more than 160,000 job listings across 33 industry sectors in Australia from online and mobile job site, Workible, communication, teamwork and digital skills emerge as the most commonly reported skills in Australia.
Despite being the most commonly listed soft skill, communication skills still remain in short supply with a significant difference (45 percentage points) between demand and reported supply.
DeakinCo. CEO, Simon Hann says, “The gap between job market demand for soft skills and the supply is significant. The lack of formal confirmation of soft skills is playing a role in this underreporting as people don’t have the confidence to claim skills that they are not able to verify – this where DeakinCo.’s micro-credentials play a vital role.”
Employers struggle to fill in entry-level and leadership roles due to shortage of soft skills
While businesses in Australia spend a staggering $11 billion on employee training and staff recruitment annually, one-fourth of employers report having difficulty recruiting entry-level vacancies because applicants lack soft skills .
New data from Workible also points out a deficit in leadership skills, with one-third of roles asking for leadership qualities, but only 17% of job candidates state having leadership skills . Supporting this is another set of data from LinkedIn, which shows 69% of HR decision makers in Australia and New Zealand find it difficult to fill leadership roles, citing lack of soft skills (45%) amongst job applicants as the top reason.
“It can be difficult for business to objectively assess the skill levels of their people. Measuring and assessing soft skills objectively, with our mirco-credentials, enable businesses to identify gaps in their organisation and ultimately, make informed strategic decisions on how to effectively invest in building their workforce capability in the years to come,” says Hann.
1This 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 (ATO statistics 2016).
2 Society for Human Resources Management 2012
3 Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016
4 Department of Employment 2016
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About the Soft skills for business success report
Commissioned by DeakinCo., the Soft skills for business success report provides an analysis of ‘soft skills’, such as teamwork, communication and critical thinking, as well as the importance of these to business success in Australia.
Featuring analysis by Deloitte Access Economics and additional insights from LinkedIn, Workible and other sources, the report aims to inform the national debate around the need for soft skills, and better understand areas that need to be improved in the Australian workforce.
For further information:
View the Soft skills for business successreport by Deloitte Access Economics here.