The two skills that workers will need in the future

by L&D30 May 2017
A new report by Deloitte Access Economics, titled: Soft Skills for Business Success, says soft skills’ and personal attributes are just as important to success as technical skills.

Indeed, ten of the sixteen ‘crucial proficiencies in the 21st century’ identified by the World Economic Forum are non-technical.
 
Soft skills are also referred to as employability skills, enterprise skills and they are transferable between industries and occupations.
 
They include things like communication, teamwork, and problem solving, as well as emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship.
 
The report’s author and Deloitte Access Economics partner, John O’Mahony, said that 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,” O’Mahony said in a statement.

“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.”
 
The report said that as technology, globalisation and demographic shifts continue to shape how businesses compete, the importance of soft skills will grow.
 
Deloitte forecasts that soft skill-intensive occupations will account for two-thirds of all jobs by 2030, compared to half of all jobs in 2000.
 
“The number of jobs in soft-skill intensive occupations is expected to grow at 2.5 times the rate of jobs in other occupations,” the report stated.
 
“That’s a big workforce change, similar in magnitude to other major trends, like the shift from ‘blue-collar’ to ‘white-collar’ work, and the growing participation of women in the workforce.”
 
The report identified several ‘megatrends’ that are shaping future skills needs.
 
“As the skill needs of business evolve, so too does the workforce,” the report stated.
 
“The impacts of globalisation, digital disruption, and demographic change are well-known. But they are changing the workforce that businesses have access to, as well as their skills.”

Globalisation
The report said that while globalisation is not a new phenomenon, is accelerating.

“Facilitated by technology and more liberal trade policy, the barriers between economies are continuing to erode,” the report stated.

According to the most recent data from the World Bank, trade now represents nearly 30% of global GDP (and 20% in Australia) – and the value of trade is predicted to continue to grow.
 
“For Australian businesses, this represents a significant opportunity for growth – 98% of the world economy are outside of national boundaries, yet only 7% of Australian businesses are exporting,” it said.

Digital disruption
The report says that technological advancements are making it easier to connect people across geographies, and soft skills will become more important.

“As technology advances, more business functions can be automated, meaning that an increasing proportion of skills gaps that businesses are likely to face in the future will revolve around soft skills,” the report stated.

Recent modelling has suggested that almost 40% of jobs in Australia have a high probability of being substituted with computing over the next 10 to 15 years.

The report said that as technical functions continue to be outsourced to machines, having staff with strong soft skills will become more important than ever as a way for businesses to connect with customers.
 
“Employees will be called on to combine digital literacy with essential human skills such as communication and problem solving,” the report stated.

Australia’s ageing population
The proportion of those aged 65 and over has almost doubled from 8% in 1964 to 15% in 2014.
The report said that as the population ages, demand for healthcare will rise and therefore jobs in healthcare (and caring jobs more generally) will grow.

“Soft skills are critical for these roles, as being able to empathise with customers is essential,” it said.
 

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