Deloitte recently released a report, The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human, which highlighted that by 2030 more than 80 per cent of the jobs created will be for knowledge workers, and of that 80 per cent, two-thirds will be strongly reliant on soft skills.

These findings also echo the data collected for the Foundation for Young Australians’ 2016 FYA report, which analysed 4.2 million unique job advertisements from 2012 and 2015, and identified that employers desired enterprise skills as often as they did technical skills. These skills are largely considered “soft” and include critical thinking, creativity, presentation skills and teamwork.

These transferable soft skills enable people to navigate multiple roles across a range of industries and professions. Jobs of the future demand these skills (70 per cent more than jobs of the past), and due to the shortage of supply, will pay a lot more.

We have cross-referenced these skills against the research from the World Economic Forum, McKinsey and AISC, and the findings are all broadly aligned. We all seem to know these skills are required to succeed in the future.

The challenge is that one-third of Australian 15-year-olds aren’t proficient in problem solving, financial literacy and digital literacy, and only 1 in ten teachers have recently participated in professional development to help students develop these skills. The Higher Education sector in Australia also remains largely focused on imparting knowledge rather than building these skills.

To help our education system build these soft skills we firstly need a common language and set of definitions to describe the detailed behaviours and capabilities within each. For example, what are the fundamental behaviours required for effective “teamwork” and what are the characteristics?

Finally, we need to evaluate how well these skills are currently being built, where the gaps are and implement a solution to close these gaps.

Interested in learning more about soft skills development and how to make your teams more productive? Download our free eBook on the Top 20 Soft Skills for Enhanced Performance.

About the author

Tom Richardson

Former Chief Executive Officer, Janison

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