Soft skills attainment in Australia

  • DeakinCo.
  • 11 August 2017

With digital disruption, globalisation and demographic shifts changing Australia’s future skill needs, formal qualifications and technical skills are merely part of the requirements for the modern workforce.

Soft skills – which are also referred to as employability skills, enterprise skills and transferable skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, emotional judgment, professional ethics and global citizenship – are just as important to our success today and in the future.

Ten out of the sixteen crucial proficiencies in the twenty-first century identified by the World Economic Forum (2015) are, in fact, non-technical.

Deloitte Access Economics (2017) reports that Australians have high soft-skill attainment levels compared to other countries, with more than six percent of the Australian population displaying the highest level of proficiency in digital literacy compared to the global average at one point nine percent (OECD, 2015).

Australians are more proficient in some soft skills, such as communication and teamwork than in others, such as critical thinking and problem solving (LinkedIn, 2017). According to data from online and mobile job site, Workible (2017), communication, teamwork and digital literacy skills emerge as the most common soft skills in Australia.

Interestingly, even though soft skills are nine times more likely to be endorsed compared to a technical skill on LinkedIn, only less than one percent of Australian LinkedIn members list any soft skills on their profiles. This underreporting is also found to be consistent globally.

This poses the question: despite the significance of soft skills, why do we underreport them?

The most likely explanation is that people are not confident assessing and claiming their soft skills without formal, independent credentials. Individuals may opt to not report a soft skill because they feel that their assessment is subjective and cannot be verified.

This is where micro-credentials play a role in addressing the underreporting of soft skills.

Micro-credentials provide a formal recognition of the skills and knowledge gained from on-the-job experience, matched against a set of professional capabilities. From the perspective of employers, there is more authenticity in credentials because they are tied to reputable assurance of professional practice against a standard that is assessed through independently verified evidence of skills, knowledge and experience.

To read more about attainment of soft skills in Australia, download the Soft skills for business success report.

This is an extract from the DeakinCo. commissioned Soft skills for business success report by Deloitte Access Economics.