21 OCTOBER, 2021


Skills are critical to business performance.
Defining, building and acquiring mission critical skills for organisational success is more urgent than ever. As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, skills management has become an agenda item for most L&D leaders. The pandemic has super-charged digitalisation and changed the way we live and work, for at least, the near future.
Whilst L&D may have seemed like a luxury in the past, brands in the driving seat of their respective marketplaces are approaching L&D strategically – recognising the need to define and align skills with their organisational strategy and requirements.

Skills Driving Performance

Core skills (or human skills as they’re often referred to) – not qualifications – are cited to be the human capital gold of the future. Every job needs a combination of skills. Historically, technical skills (e.g., accounting) and industry knowledge (e.g. work experience) have received the most prominence. Whilst these skills are obviously critical, today the more forward-thinking organisations are recognising that human skills are equally  – and sometimes more – important in driving organisational performance.

Skills Valued by Business. Deloitte Access Economics & DeakinCo.

Research finds that these skills bring a range of business benefits, flowing from productivity boosts to higher business revenue. Specifically, planning for these skills impact

  1. The productivity of individuals in a business e.g. in Australia, employees that utilise teamwork are 3% more productive than their co-workers, and worth an extra $2,000 per year to the business.
  2. A business’s overall productivity e.g., in the manufacturing industry in the UK, differences in human skills account for 3% of the total factor productivity gap between firms in the top and bottom deciles.
  3. Overall business revenue e.g., Deloitte Access Economics’ estimated that stronger human skills in the workplace could increase revenue in the average business by over $90,000.

The ‘new’ workforce

More recently, as we’ve experienced during the pandemic, on top of the financial benefits, human skills bring considerable qualitative benefits. For example, individuals with strong emotional judgement and teamwork skills help to foster a collaborative and welcoming workplace culture.

Yet, skills shortages are the second most commonly cited barrier to business performance. An analysis of over 9 million job advertisements in Australia revealed that, by far the most in-demand skills are core or human skills – 96% of job ads note the need for time management and organisational skills, and 97% need customer skills.

70% of all future job profiles in the non-technical area, will be made up of human-centred capabilities.

Beyond their contribution today, human skills are set to grow in importance going forward. By 2030, it’s expected that two thirds of jobs in Australia will be human skill intensive.

In part, this is because of changing preferences and demography. For example, Australia’s ageing population has seen employment in health care and social assistance grow by 22% over the last five years.

However, it is also driven by technology and pandemic amplified. Technological advance is changing the type of work that is required, and the skills required to do that work. With technology augmenting human effort, workers will increasingly focus on tasks that are less routine, and less manual. Instead, individuals will focus on work that cannot be automated, or outsourced to machines.

The Golden Four 

The largest gaps today – customer service, organisation and management, digital literacy, and leadership are all human skills.  Applying a classification developed by Deloitte Access Economics of 35 different skill sets, the average job requires employees to have around 18 of those key skills. Of the 35 skill sets in total, human skills feature highly across all roles.

As such, human skills are in high demand. For example, 96% of jobs require time management and organisational skills, while 97% require customer service skills. It is estimated that by 2030, 86% of the jobs created in Australia will be knowledge worker jobs, that is, jobs that require people to handle or use information, or to ‘think for a living’ like programmers, engineers, and doctors.

The only way to mitigate for such a profound change in the workforce, is to begin planning now as this forward thinking can substantially impact organisations ability to adapt and ultimately drive business improvement.

This article is a summary of research undertaken by DeakinCo. and Deloitte Access Economics – Premium Skills.

If your organisation is planning for the future and seeking to define what’s required in the future state contact us today.