OECD surveys suggest that both employers and youth consider that many graduates are ill-prepared for the world of work.
At least 475 million new jobs need to be created over the next decade to absorb the 73 million youth currently unemployed and the 40 million new annual entrants to the labour market.
Monday July 15 marked Youth Skills Day, which aims to create greater awareness of the importance of vocational education and training (VET) and the development of skills – locally and globally.
To coincide with the UN designated day, specialised recruitment firm Robert Half recently put together its insights from placing graduates and shares five useful tips for those entering the workforce:
1. Equip yourself with in-demand technical skills
According to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide, digitisation is transforming roles and processes across a range of industries, including in the finance and accounting sector. Companies are looking for finance and accounting professionals who can demonstrate skills in areas like Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP/Oracle and are Chartered Accountant or Certified Practising Accountant accredited. In the financial services sector, the top skills in demand include IFRS 17 reporting, fund accounting and regulatory reporting. Experience comes from on-the-job training, so undertaking professional development programs and internships before finishing study can help foster this. Within the IT industry, candidates with backgrounds in coding, especially Java, C#, C++, and in particular React are in high demand.
2. Soft skills matter
Soft skills such as communication and negotiation, teamwork, creative problem solving and adaptability are now considered critical to career success, due to their role in influencing organisational stakeholders and making data-driven, strategic decisions.
To bolster their soft skills, new and upcoming graduates have a number of options available to compensate for the lack of professional experience. Internships, volunteering, temporary/part-time work, and adopting a ‘constant learning’ mindset can all help improve their employability in a thriving but highly competitive job market.
3. Prioritise professional development
In a skills-short labour market, public and private institutions alike recognise the need to train the incumbent workforce in high-demand skills, creating a new frontier of employable candidates that can then match and offset skill areas where industries are lacking.
Australian youth skills focused programs include Microsoft’s National Skills Program, Qlik’s Data Literacy Program, and the Australian Government’s recently announced Skills Package for the VET sector.
Professionals entering the employment market would also benefit from choosing an employer who values upskilling and makes professional development and training a part of their ongoing activities. Training staff in both technical and soft skills is not only beneficial to the graduates’ careers, it also encourages them to stay with the company.
4. Job for life is obsolete
While the broad and diverse skills that come with multiple jobs can help accelerate career advancement, it’s also recommended that Australian professionals who are still early in their career find a comfortable balance for themselves, as taking time to ‘grow into’ a role shows a loyalty that employers may reward with promotions and pay increases later on. Generally, however, young Australian professionals should not feel shy about seeking new opportunities if they feel they are lacking in their current workplace.
5. Consider temporary jobs
Graduates should also consider temporary or project work. Working on an interim basis can help people entering the employment market learn new skills and experience and build their professional network. Through these employment opportunities, they can also determine what type of company they’d like to work for over the long term. Many employers are receptive towards hiring temporary staff as they realise the benefits offered by having a mix of both contract and permanent staff, with 72% of CFOs surveyed for the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide saying that contract workers are a key component of their department’s long-term staffing strategy. This positive turnaround is also having a direct impact on the career paths of temporary professionals as top performers are in turn being offered permanent positions by their employer if and when there’s an available opportunity.