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Top 5 skills you will need to be competitive in the job market

Top 5 skills you will need to be competitive in the job market

Looking for a job during COVID-19 is more challenging than ever.  While it’s true up to a million Australians have lost their jobs to the pandemic, job opportunities in some industries are rising.  Employers are also looking for different skill sets. If you are looking for a job or thinking of a career change now, this article offers insights that are important to you.

COVID-19 Job Outlook

Historically, pandemics have spawned social and labour transformations.   In the 19th century, a powerful and deadly strain of the flu swept the globe killing a third of the world’s population.  The Spanish Flu disproportionately affected young men which combined with WW1 led to a shortage of labour.  Women stepped forward to fill in the gap which eventually led to changes like Women’s Rights.   

Over a century later, another deadly flu is once again forcing sweeping changes to the global future of work.  Without a cure or a vaccine, questions remain whether employees will return to their offices or if they will stay working from home forever.   What is certain is that new trends are emerging that will confront our values and behaviours about how we work, where we work and what we do. The jobs, cognitive thinking and skills that were once valued in the employment market have changed and evidence suggests that a new wave is emerging. 

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A recent report by ING showed that 3.3 million Australian workers are considering a career change now.  1 in 6 Australians are worried about their job security.  35% (or 1 in 3) Australians are likely to change their jobs post COVID-19.  Amongst this group half (or 45%) will be Millennials.   Anxiety over future job opportunities is high.  23% of Australian workers believe that opportunities will be scarcer as a result of the pandemic.   

The report also revealed that a significant number of Australian workers think they do not have the right skills to stay employed in the future.  28% believe they have to acquire a new skill with 17% of this group saying that they need skills that can help enhance their future employment prospects.  Only 11% of workers have taken the initiative to learn a new skill during the quarantine.  If you are not in this group, now is the time to act because early economic markers show that the job market will continue to be unstable post-pandemic.  

Are there jobs during and post-pandemic?

The answer is ‘Yes’!  There are still jobs in the market.  And not all of them are checkout assistants, truck drivers, cleaners or healthcare workers.   Managers with particular skill sets are in demand too.   You just need to know what employers are looking for.  

Demand for technology-based skills will continue to grow long after the pandemic is over.  Technology and digital advancement have been shaping the way we work, live and socialise long before the pandemic was around.  The pandemic did not create technology, but it did put everything on overdrive.   Despite the initial setbacks, working from home has proven to be a success and all the early signs are saying, WFH or a form of it could become mainstream in the future.  

While STEM-based skills and knowledge are the keys to the future, it is equally important during these challenging times to harness the creative and imaginative powers of our right brains.  The new Vitruvian man or woman is a versatile worker who can balance technology with creative problem solving, entrepreneurship, innovation, emotional intelligence and empathy.

Industries that will continue to see an increase in employment in Australia include healthcare and social services, professional, scientific and technical services, education and training, and construction according to Job Outlook. Studies have also shown that growth will occur in other industries like:  

  • Agriculture
  • Biotechnology, pharmaceutical and life sciences
  • Cybersecurity
  • Digital Entertainment
  • Logistics
  • Renewable energy
  • Robotics
  • Sustainability and Wellbeing

Emerging jobs in Australia include: 

  • Agricultural technologist
  • AI managers
  • Black swan risk managers
  • Business (War) games designers
  • Business strategists
  • Computer scientists
  • Cybersecurity experts
  • Digital literacy trainers
  • Educators
  • Executive leadership coaches
  • Financial coaches
  • Healthcare workers
  • Home office interior designers
  • IT Specialists
  • Mental health professionals
  • Organisational and management analysts
  • Organisational storytellers
  • Supply chain specialists
  • Survival coaches
  • Trust managers
  • Video designers 

Individuals who want to stay competitive in the job market will require reskilling and upskilling to stay current and relevant to emerging trends. Organisations are also looking at critical skills and competencies as top HR priorities to prepare their managers and people for future crises.

Top 7 skills employers are looking for today

The need for critical skills has never been greater.  A recent Gartner survey showed that 80% of the global workforce, 92% of managers and 77% of senior leaders felt they were unprepared for the pandemic. Up to 60% of HR professionals also say that their CEOs want them to train managers to be better prepared for future crises.  

The top 5 managerial skills every company is looking for today are:

  1. Creativity and innovation
  2. The type of innovation every employer wants today is collaborative. In extreme circumstances, the leader must have the foresight to predict trends, the talent to innovate and the ability to drive change. They must also be adroit in promoting employee creativity, voice and knowledge sharing.
  3. Adaptability
  4. Employers are now looking for managers who are flexible and adaptable to change. The pandemic has shown that the best managers are the ones who can quickly assess a situation and make the right decisions to adapt to these changes.
  5. Tech savviness
  6. If you are still doing things the old way, now is the time to embrace technology and upgrade your digital skills. Whilst no one knows what will happen with the pandemic, we all know that technology-driven work practices are not going away.
  7. Persuasion
  8. Persuasion has the power to change attitudes, behaviours and mindsets. A persuasive leader can keep staff motivated and focused on their jobs even when they are physically distanced from the workplace.
  9. Time management
  10. The critical factors that serve as antecedents to time management include organisation, prioritisation, goal setting, delegation and stress management. All these skills are important attributes that organisations will want from their future managers.

Thinking of changing career? Find out what skills you need with the Job Outlook Skills Match Test here

How to acquire critical skills that employees want

Thinking of upskilling or reskilling? There are many options available on the internet that cover a broad spectrum of topics. Here are some of our top recommendations:


TAFE has 21 free online courses for Aussies who want to learn practical skills across a range of industries from business administration, digital, medical, to leadership.


Coursera is huge with over 100 free online modules. Many of these courses are offered by Ivy League learning institutions like Harvard, Oxford University, MIT or global brands like Amazon and Google. The courses cover a diverse range of topics including languages, career development, digital technology, public health and emergency management.


LinkedIn Learning runs expert courses on a one-month free trial. Courses cover topics like data science, software development, leadership and management.


For broader learning experiences, our universities have a range of online degrees from computer engineering, to marketing and management.


For specialised skills training, Careerist Australia offers a comprehensive range of courses for all levels of workers from entry-level to C-suite leaders. Fresh graduates will benefit from their one-to-one job application process, resume building and interview skills. Managers and leaders can choose leadership, creativity and innovation, team building, conflict management, coaching and mentoring, time management, and crisis management.

How to develop a skills-based plan for your organisation

To develop a skills-based plan for the future, consider Careerists’ simple 5-step process:

Careerists’ 5 Imperatives for a skills-based plan

Analyse skills and competencies: Analyse existing skills and competencies using industry-standards, competitors and non-traditional competitors’ data to understand the emerging skills landscape and how it can affect your organisation.

Review and aggregate critical skills: Review roles and identify critical skills required for competitive advantage.

Share findings: Share findings with key stakeholders to help them understand the implications of skills trend and how they can build these capabilities in their teams.

Create an enterprise-wide talent pipeline: Identify the skills that will help your organisation achieve competitive advantage.

Develop talent development and acquisition plan: Identify internal talent. Reskill talent with training. Hire new talent to fill the gaps.

Increased remote working, rapid technological transformation and gig work have uncovered significant shifts in workplace trends and in-demand jobs and skills. Australians have to be better prepared to ensure a better future.

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