Skills for the future

Skills are key

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused large-scale disruption to Australian businesses, workplaces and jobs. Even as the Australian economy recovers, we are likely to see more workforce transitions due to increased digitisation, technological adoption and ongoing structural changes.

In these times of global uncertainty and change, skills are key. The Australian Government, through the NSC, is providing a range of job matching tools and resources to help young people and existing workers skill and reskill themselves for jobs and careers that are in demand. More information can be found at

What types of skills will be in demand?

When applying for jobs, remember to emphasise your employability skills, rather than just the technical skills you may have. Communication, reliability, team work, patience, resilience and initiative are required for all jobs, and this will continue to be the case in the future. These skills are also highly valued by employers. A 2019 survey conducted by the NSC asked employers about the importance of these sorts of skills. Some 75% of employers considered employability skills to be as important, if not more important, than technical skills.

We also know that it is important to have the skills that will help you work with technology. Almost all jobs will require the use of at least one technology tool. A technology tool is software that enables a person to perform tasks related to an occupation. We use technology tools to perform many tasks in our daily lives including using the internet, sending emails, texts or instant messages, and connecting remotely with video conferencing.

For example, the most used technology tools for a Truck Driver are shown in the illustration. Even though the primary task is driving a truck, technology tools support drivers to perform other tasks, such as managing inventory and route planning, more efficiently and effectively.

Technology tools used by Truck Drivers

  • Inventory management software
  • Data base user interface and query software
  • Industrial control software
  • Materials requirements planning logistics and supply chain software
  • Office suite software
  • Route navigation software
  • Spreadsheet software

Source: National Skills Commission analysis

Can skills gained in one job be transferable to another job?

Many jobs have similar skill sets. If you are looking for work or facing a change of job, the good news is that you’re likely to have many transferable skills. Identifying your transferable skills can open up a broader range of job opportunities—see diagram below.

For further information on the skills employers will need into the future, please visit the Your Career website. This website provides clear and simply career information and is designed to help people of all ages and circumstances better plan and manage their career. It has resources on training options, information and services to support career development.

Jobs with similar skills

Retail Assistants

  • Motor Vehicle and Caravan Salespersons,
  • Customer Service Managers,
  • Call Centre Operators

Café Workers

  • Baristas, Waiters,
  • Bar Attendants,
  • Kitchenhands,
  • Cashiers

General Clerks

  • Receptionists,
  • Admission Clerks,
  • Data Entry Operators,
  • Transport and Despatch Clerks

Builder's Labourers

  • Excavator Operators,
  • Wall and Floor Tilers,
  • Railway Track Workers,
  • Freight and Furniture Handlers

Machine Operators

  • Painting Trades Workers,
  • Furniture Finishers,
  • Panelbeaters

Source: National Skills Commission analysis

What new opportunities might be created by technological change?

The COVID-19 pandemic may speed up workforce transitions already underway due to technological change. Some businesses could move their business online and adopt new ways of working.

In order to provide up-to-date and accurate information about these new opportunities, the NSC has undertaken work to identify the occupations that have emerged from this period of transition. Examples include Social Media Specialists and Wind Turbine Technicians. See here for more information on these emerging occupations.

As the Australian economy recovers, the jobs created may not be the same as those that were lost. Technological change may also change some jobs and their skills requirements. For example, school teachers are engaging with online learning and using technology to apply multiple teaching methods in class.

While some workforce disruptions have been challenging, technology is creating new opportunities. For example, there may be more opportunities to enjoy a regional lifestyle while working remotely. In turn, regional population growth could create more local job opportunities, strengthening those communities and economies.

Will training and qualifications be necessary?

There are many pathways to work, and it is important to make decisions based on your own strengths. In a competitive labour market, training and qualifications matter. It also helps to understand the skills you acquire through your education, training and work experience.

You can use the Government’s resources like Jobs Hub and Skills Match to identify your transferable skills and address skills gaps. These resources also identify local labour market trends and opportunities—so you know your training and qualifications will lead to ongoing work.

Skills development and lifelong learning will expand your opportunities as some jobs change, new jobs emerge, and technological progress continues.