Chapter 7 Emerging skills

State of Australia’s Skills 2021: now and into the future

Chapter 7 Emerging skills

Changes in technology are often thought to lead to the loss of jobs. But the biggest effect of advances in technology is on changes in the way existing jobs are done. Known as ‘task change’, this involves changes in the amount of time spent on existing tasks and the addition of new tasks 55.

The concept of task change is approached in this chapter through an examination of trending and emerging skills, which are affecting the way work is undertaken across many occupations. For example, ‘infection control’ is trending in 45 occupations and emerging in 38 others, ‘social media’ is trending in 47 occupations and emerging in 18, while ‘enterprise resource planning’ is trending in 50 occupations and emerging in 14.

Trending and emerging skills exist across many occupations, highlighting the need for ongoing skills development for all Australians.

Data and digital skills are among the fastest growing emerging skills. The analysis in this chapter suggests that while Australia recognises well the need for specific digital skills, further effort may be required to build base digital skills proficiency at all skill levels, not just the higher skill levels.

The chapter also analyses the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on demand for some skills and finds there has been some increase in demand for core competencies or ‘employability skills’ such as teamwork, planning and organising, and problem solving skills. Particularly important during the pandemic were skills relating to resilience and flexibility and to managing tasks and staffing logistics outside more conventional and established working arrangements.



See AlphaBeta, Mapping Australian workforce change, 2018.