Top 4 most prioritised skills across the Australian job market

Top 4 most prioritised skills across the Australian job market

By Andrea Italia
13th January 2022

The top 4 most prioritised skills across the Australian job market.

Wondering what kind of skills are sought after in Australia’s job market today? The 2020–2021 National Skills Overview from the Australian Industry and Skills Committee (AISC) contains a high-level analysis of industry skill needs and the factors and trends affecting the demand for skills at a national and cross-industry level. Released as an annual report, its overview provides jobseekers and employers with the needs concerning industry skills for the year.


An especially helpful report for job seekers and industry leaders, a main takeaway from the report is the break-down of the most prioritised skills across Industry Reference Committee (IRC) Skills Forecasts. IRCs are made up of figures and leaders with close links to their specialised industry and sectors from big business to small enterprise and peak bodies to unions, who deeply understand the challenges, opportunities and trends underpinning their industry.

Elsewhere, top networking and job seeking sites such as LinkedIn and Seek have analysed similar skills and competencies through their independent research, utilising recruiters, learning development professionals, and survey data to formulate far-reaching evaluations about Australia and the world’s in-demand skills. These key findings are addressed in LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report for 2021 and Seek’s research-based article ‘The 5 Skills Employers Want Now’.

The top four skills that are prioritised across IRC Skills Forecasts in 2020–2021 are:

(1) adaptability;

(2) collaboration;

(3) analytical; and

(4) digital,

The COVID-19 impact of each was considered carefully. They are ranked in this way according to their highest priority generic skill factor across all industries, with adaptability being the most pertinent. LinkedIn takes a broader approach by emphasising the importance of lifelong learning and learning habits. They cite growing trends of hard-skill learning on their platform through LinkedIn Learning.

The following is a brief analysis of the four most sought-after skills, according to IRCs ranging from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker to Wholesale and Retail sectors, as well as everything in between:

1. Adaptability

Perhaps accelerated by responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, a demand for adaptability in the form of self-management and learning new skills independently and resilience and stress tolerance has become increasingly important. Seek identifies resilience as their top ranked skill, with the capacity to talk about productivity and your ability to recover from difficult situations as paramount in a pandemic economy.

The driving demands for skills under adaptability are spurred on by a multitude of factors. Key points such evolving work and career values; emerging markets and technologies; and globalisation and its impact on mobility, migration and international markets stand out.

Perhaps correlating directly with the Workplace Learning Report developed by LinkedIn, rapid and agile upskilling and reskilling remains a top priority for learning and development programmes globally, with professionals also teaching leadership and management and virtual onboarding skills as similarly important top skills.

The AISC’s report shows that adaptability was utilised the most in response to the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Adaptability proved that education providers could work across interactive platforms and create virtual classrooms; businesses and citizens could comply with government directions; that businesses had to adapt to border closure issues that affected fly-in-fly-out work arrangements, skilled migration, and business travel; and that transitions to remote-working for many businesses could be possible.

2. Collaboration

Collaboration has remained ever important in today’s job economy with the rise of hybrid workspaces, focussing on transferable skills such as interpersonal communication; cultural awareness; customer service; emotional intelligence; teamwork; and social perceptiveness.

Importantly, diversity and inclusion was proven to be a top talent development priority according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report, with allyship in diverse workplace cultures an imperative.

Some of the most driving demands for collaboration is the changing of workplace dynamics; the growing demand for care-related services and products; and the need for more sustainable products.

The COVID-19 impact on collaboration saw citizens undergo a rapid upskilling of collaboration tools, thereby increasing their teamwork capacity and emotional intelligence. In Seek’s findings, emotional intelligence is a  another key skill that makes candidates and employees stand out, advising readers to openly discuss workplace challenges they faced whilst being self-aware and empathising with the emotions of others. Opening yourself up more to relationships with customers, leaders, and managers in your digital vicinity is strongly encouraged.

3. Analytical

The rising importance of data and our ability to utilise and manage figures, technological tools and products, as well as navigating ready-made services at our disposal has been recognised by IRCs across Australia.

Analysing and presenting raw data and findings has become especially important when assessing our capacity for critical thinking and innovation; creativity and problem solving; and evaluation skills. Driving demand are factors such as AI and machine learning as well as start-up thinking, impacting physical, digital, and biological domains emanating from the forces of COVID-19 and its impacts on independent thinking and analysis.

With analytical thinking at the forefront of learning, LinkedIn has commended Gen Z (18–24 year-olds) for engaging more in their learning services. LinkedIn reports that 67 per cent of Gen Z learners said that they spent more time learning in 2020 than they did the previous year. Learning how to code on Python or understanding online marketing foundations were just two of the hard skills that Gen Z endeavoured to learn on LinkedIn, illustrating that now is the time to focus on improving the technical skills we are passionate about.

4. Digital

Arguably the most obvious is the surging demand for digital skills, as we are constantly being asked to demonstrate our digital literacy and ability to learn new technologies independently from home.

According to the AISC and Seek’s ‘5 Skills Employers Want Now’, technological savvy remains an important skill to demonstrate in interviews and the workplace. Identifying how you can use digital literacy skills to the benefit of your employer and your team will help you put your best foot forward. The vitality of digital skills throughout the COVID-19 pandemic saw significant digital transformation within the space of less than two years, resulting in government as well as employer interest for upskilling and reskilling.

Skills like coding and programming and understanding and working with industry-specific software and technology remains more important now than ever, with driving demands for this skill similar in nature to analytical demands like emerging technologies and empowered customers. Moreover, Seek reminds us that familiarity with tools such as teleconferencing, collaboration platforms, file sharing, remote learning and the ability to organise and deliver virtual events remains increasingly important.

Perhaps unknowingly, each of us has developed these skills in some way or another throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia. Talk with Executive Agents today so we can help you highlight your own newfound capabilities.

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