28 JUNE, 2017


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

Soft skills are becoming increasingly important and organisations rely on and value skills like critical thinking, emotional judgement, communication, problem solving and teamwork to drive business outcomes.

The Soft skills for business success report by Deloitte Access Economics found that the number of jobs in soft skills intensive occupations is expected to grow 2.5 times the rate of jobs in less soft skill intensive occupations. And by 2030, Deloitte Access Economics (2017) predicts that soft skill intensive occupations will make up almost two-thirds of the workforce by 2030.

Evidence on soft skill attainment is limited, however, Deloitte Access Economics (2017) compiled and analysed a number of different sources to find out how our nation currently performs when it comes to soft skills.

In an analysis of new data from job site Workible, Deloitte Access Economics (2017) found that the gap between job market demand for soft skills exceeded supply by up to 45 per cent. The Workible data also shows that there are shortages in self-management, digital skills, problem solving and critical thinking.

Furthermore, research by the Victorian Department of Education and Training found that of 5,700 businesses surveyed, nearly one third identified a lack of skills within their businesses now or within the next 12 months. Of these, just under half reported soft skills as skills shortfall, second only to job specific technical skills (department of Education and Training Victoria 2015).

Similarly, the Australian Institute of Management conducted a survey of over 2,000 managers around Australia and 76 per cent confirmed they had a workforce skills gap in their organisation, with a third of all respondents identifying a communication and interpersonal skills gap in their organisation (Australian Institute of Management 2009).

So, why is the gap between job market demand and supply so significant?

The evidence available suggests that professionals do have a strong soft-skill base, but the data suggests that people are often unsure of their skill levels.

Professionals are more likely to report technical skills and professional qualifications, but LinkedIn data shows that very few report soft skills. Less than one per cent of Australian LinkedIn profiles list soft skills such as communication and problem solving on their profile (Deloitte Access Economics, 2017).

The most likely explanation for the lack of reporting, is that people are not confident in claiming skills with no formal assessment or confirmation. Individuals may choose not to report a skill because they feel that it cannot be verified.

Another possibility is that professionals may underestimate the value businesses place on soft skills. Or, alternatively, others may think that some soft skills like (digital literacy and communication) are a given.

Job market demand for soft skills is only going to increase, so how can we increase our supply?

It can be difficult for businesses and individuals to objectively measure skill levels. One solution to this problem is micro-credentials that provide an independent measurement of skills that have been demonstrated in practice.

Rather than focusing on learning inputs – micro-credentials focus on performance outcomes and demonstrated application of capabilities in the workplace. Measuring and recognising soft skills, with micro-credentials, will provide individuals with confirmation of their skills and enable businesses to identify gaps in their organisation and ultimately, make informed strategic decisions on how to effectively invest in building their workforce capability in the years to come.

To read more about the soft skills gap, download the Soft skills for business success report.

View the video from the launch of this report.