Everyone is talking about the need for hard and soft skills – but what are they and how can today’s students get them?
A report by the Regional Australia Institute and NBN has found that one-in-two Australians will need skills in programming, software development and building digital technology to remain competitive in 2030.
The ‘Future of Work: Setting Kids Up for Success’ report points to soft people skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration, connectivity, creativity, and culture.
“Having a mix of these skills is a good foundation, but our kids will also need to be able to work more flexibly, moving from task to task, job to job and place to place in ways previous generations have not had to deal with,” the report said.
“It will be commonplace to have a portfolio of part-time work for clients and customers anywhere in the world.”
For this, the report suggests investing now in high capacity digital connections, innovation and the right type of learning environment – so future jobs can be anywhere in Australia, not just capital cities.
In the next five years, it is expected that 90% of the existing workforce will need a basic level of digital literacy to communicate, find information and purchase goods and services to satisfy prospective employers.
However, the report projected that in 2030, there will be three types of jobs:
- Future jobs, new and focused on digital specialisation and technical skills;
- Changing jobs, similar to current jobs but with new activities focused on high personal contact (‘high touch’), high levels of care and high levels of tech; and
- Fading jobs, which will be replaced by automation in time
“As automation takes over, some occupations will evolve as workers take on new tasks.”
Future job projections show an increase in almost all occupations, with professionals showing greatest growth (39%), followed by Community and Personal Service workers (23%).
Nicholas Wyman, CEO of Skilling Australia Foundation (SAF), told The Educator that the world was rapidly changing and this alone called for a new approach as to how schools motivate and link students with promising career opportunities.
“Australia has definitely dropped the ball in terms of manufacturing because we’re not focusing in the right place…on the right kind of manufacturing,” he explained.
“In Australia, we need to ask ‘what is our thing?’ There are 1.1 million people employed in service industries, but we need to seek out other industries that will be in demand once kids leave school,” he said.