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Higher degrees and soft-skills: Highly sought after by Australian employers

SOURCE: William WEST / AFP
It has been reported that 90% of employment in Australia will require qualifications higher than school level in the next five years.


By Aisyah Liliana 

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As countries gear up to restart their economies amidst the new normal, businesses and employers across the globe are setting new standards and requirements to fill the skill gaps. Australian employment trends have undergone the same trajectory and the country is now readying itself to reopen the economy as the effects of COVID-19 have subdued.

Employers in Australia and across the world now require new and specific combinations of qualifications, skills, and experience. Employers are also seeking to hire talent that will fill these skill gaps.

Plodding forward through the negative impacts of COVID-19 on Australian employment and the economy, the projections seem promising to job seekers in Australia as total employment is expected to increase by 8.3% for the next five years.

The Department of Education, Skills, and Employment has released a report on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australian businesses.

This report found that 32% of impacted businesses had let staff go to cope with the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses.

On a positive note, the report states that 67 % of these businesses reported that they planned to rehire all their existing staff, while a further 14% planned to rehire some of their existing staff.

This positive trend will be seen across 16 industries over that period.

Four industries are projected to experience the largest growth in employment for the next five years including the healthcare and social assistance industry, services industry, the education and training industry, and the construction industry.

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Over this time, the healthcare and social assistance industry will lead as the primary provider of new jobs in the Australian labour market with its projected growth of 15%.

Employment in this burgeoning industry is expected to grow due to the continued demand generated by the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Australia’s aging population. The report states that the large investments in hospitals and increasing demand for childcare and home-based care services also contribute to this strong projected growth.

The services industry will grow by around 15%, as the demand for professional, scientific, and technical services grows in demand post-COVID-19. This is indicative of the growing need for the services of qualified and highly educated workers throughout the strengthening post-COVID-19 economy.

Employment in the education and training industry will grow by slightly more than 12%, supported by increases in the school-aged population, continued strength in the international education sector, and growing demand for adult and community education.

Employment in the construction industry will grow by over 9% in the next five years.

Declines in employment will occur in several industries, including agriculture, forestry and fishing, manufacturing, and more surprisingly, information media and telecommunications industries.

The expected decline for employment in the manufacturing industry is projected at 0.4% over the next five years, with the printing and printing support services expected to be the worst hit.

Employment in the information media and telecommunications industry will drop by 0.3%. This decline reflects the shift towards non-physical media and increased competitive pressures, particularly in the telecommunications sector.

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Australian employment trends is set to favour a highly qualified and experienced workforce

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) also recently released a report on the projected employment growth. This report states that the strongest growth in occupations will occur at the highest skill levels, as work in Australia is becoming more skilled.

This means, 90% of employment in Australia for the projected period of five years will require qualifications higher than school level certifications.

12% of employment growth will occur in occupations requiring tertiary education of degree level and above, out of this total number. The trend highlights the growing importance of tertiary education in the Australian labour market.

The Australian Government also published its updated employment outlook findings, which projects the industries and skills that will be in demand from now until May 2024.

The top employable skills sought by employers are communication skills, teamwork, problem-solving ability, organisational skills, and creativity, and initiative. This indicates a strong push for employees to reskill and upskill themselves through soft skill training.

Australian employers are also seeking an experienced workforce, which is good news for those who have been recently affected by retrenchment and downsizing exercises.

Work experience placements, part-time or casual jobs, temporary or contract jobs, apprenticeships or traineeships, internships, and volunteering experience are some of the highly sought-after workplace experiences that employers believe would bring good value to businesses.