Transferable skills: Employers want them. And we can all get them.

Dean and Elana demonstrate their Presentation Skills.jpg

(Above) Our peers – Community Advisory Council members Dean and Elana – show their presentation skills. Photo: Jas Buchal

Panorama Employment is going to start a new series on Transferable Skills so that you, our readers, can keep up-to-date with gaining attributes which will make you become more and more attractive to employers in the workplaces of the future.

The Foundation for Young Australia published a report recently called The New Basics: Big data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order. It identified which jobs were in decline (e.g., administration) and which jobs seem to be expanding (e.g., community and personal service workers and sales).

The report says that the jobs of the future – those that are less likely to be replaced by computerisation – were the sort that required the following skills:

• Problem solving
• Communication skills
• Digital literacy
• Teamwork
• Presentation skills
• Critical thinking
• Creativity
• Financial literacy

Most of the jobs of the future belong to the “tertiary” or “service sector.” They are jobs where people interact with people, jobs where computers and machinery can’t replace their creators. When the Foundation for Young Australia compared these jobs with “jobs of the past,” they found that jobs of the future were 70% more likely to require the skills we just listed above. All eight of the things on that list are called “executive” skills, but we are calling them by another name: “transferable” skills. Until recently, they USED to be called “soft” skills, and not so long ago employers actually used to deride these kinds of “soft” skills and complain that there weren’t enough people with HARD skills. Hard skills, to put it simply, are technical skills, skills that are specific to a particular job. Examples of HARD skills would include surgical skills for a doctor, hair styling techniques for a hairdresser, and JavaScript for an IT worker. Focussed, specific skills. The true advantage of SOFT skills is that they are TRANSFERABLE. Not only are they transferrable between jobs, but also between industries. This could include problem solving for a doctor, creativity for a hairdresser, and digital literacy for an IT worker. In fact, problem solving is useful for doctors, IT workers AND hairdressers. Likewise, creativity will be useful for all three jobs, and digital literacy comes in handy, too.

There’s nothing “soft” about transferable skills. When you invest in them, you invest in the future (and you also lessen the odds of being replaced by a robot).

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