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A workforce with a broad mix of skills is crucial for business success and national prosperity. Businesses with more skilled staff have higher rates of innovation and productivity. And academic literature has found a consistent relationship between human capital and economic growth.
But do we fully understand the workforce skills necessary for success? 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.
DeakinCo. asked Deloitte Access Economics to assess the importance of obtaining and measuring soft skills to better understand areas that need to be improved in the Australian workforce and businesses. To do this, Deloitte Access Economics consulted with key industry experts and analysed new detailed data from job matching tools, LinkedIn and Workible, to assess both international and domestic demand for these skills and how well positioned Australians are to provide them.
As technology, globalisation and demographic shifts continue to shape how businesses compete, the importance of soft skills will grow. In this report, Deloitte Access Economics 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.
Businesses recognise the importance of building soft skills in their employees in order to harness the broader benefits. We estimate that businesses spend $4 billion every year on training, and another $7 billion each year on recruiting the right staff. Yet without objectively and comprehensively measuring soft skills, it is difficult to measure the impact of this investment.
Given the importance of soft skills, we must continue to build our understanding of how we perform. Effectively investing in improving our soft skills will bring significant benefits – to individuals, businesses and our economy.