Skills Anticipation to Inform Education and Skills Development, Policies and Programs

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When it comes to skills anticipation, some will say it is just too hard to predict, but honing in on 2021-22 there are obvious and counter intuitive areas of workforce demand.

Post pandemic there is evidence of acute skills shortages, especially in regional and rural areas of Australia, which did exist beforehand, but they have become almost crippling to many businesses and industry sectors, especially agriculture and horticulture.

And whilst some people forecasted that unemployment rates in Australia would climb, so far unemployment rates are generally on the decline.  There is a major question around what might happen when/if support for employers and job seekers rolls back, and for many finding a job will become much more of a sharper focus.

With 2020 seeing a reorientation of priorities in essential jobs, 2021 is the year for forecasting and applying evidence to areas for skills anticipation, that is, skills in demand in the short to medium term.

So what are the capabilities and skills where there are entry level to leadership roles for 2021-22?

Well first of all, it is important to understand that entry level job roles have changed and stepped up a level (for education friends this is 0.5-2 AQF levels depending on the sector and diversification of skills).  For example, the job role of cleaner is in high demand with many employers having trouble recruiting but there is an added lay of skills related to COVID-safe practices, hygiene and customer care.

COVID Safe Events and Festivals is an emerging strength for South Australia and Australia more generally, with approaches, policies, procedures and training having export potential to places like the UK and USA in particular.  Locally these sectors, reaching into the creative industry especially music, are still in recovery mode, with increasing demand for live events from Australians.  But again, the capacity and capabilities required to run such events, festivals and performances has a higher level of skill due to logistics and planning, health and safety requirements.

The care sector, health in particular, is an obvious growth sector to point to but did you know that client and workforce demand, especially in NDIS is outstripping supply now.  Health education will also experience scaling up similar to how you’ve seen workforces put in place for testing and tracing.

AI applications, for example working alongside digital humans and new discovery technologies, digital skills including video and new social media platforms such as Clubhouse (audio only), are required across the board.

Blockchain underpinning virtual currency transactions is experiencing demand as well as Fintech solutions such as Afterpay or similar shop now, pay later platforms.

Building and construction is booming, where some are saying there is a dire lack and shortages of tradespeople, which is due to a number of factors combining such as:

  • Home builder program implementation where construction has to start in 6 months of signing a contract
  • Lack of building resources
  • Jump in new home building approvals
  • Generous subsidies to hire apprentices
  • Lack of bricklayers, carpenters and plumbers – all trades that feed into builder’s licences and therefore new building companies
  • Low interest rates, now and on the horizon
  • Many households paying down debt
  • Limited housing stock to buy and/or rent and the demand which seems to be a result, in some part, of experiencing COVID-19 lockdowns

Cyber security is an increasing area of capability development, for small medium enterprises through to large corporates, which can be driven by quality and contract standards especially if government (at all levels) is a customer.  Today, for most Australians, a break in attempt to your computer is far more likely than a break in attempt on your home or car.

Energy is changing at rapidly changing and it is an area where there clearly will be winners and losers.  Driving many of the changes is renewable energy technologies.  Consumer behavior and a move away from fossil fuels with a range of other technologies are coming onboard.  Some of these are controllable and others are dependent on other factors like weather.

In the past we had an excess of power at nighttime, now with so much solar available surplus power is more often available when the sun is shining.  Generation and storage concepts that have changed include:

  • Solar
  • Wind
  • Digestion from wastewater and digestion from specifically grown crops
  • Home and large-scale batteries
  • Pumped Hydro
  • Heat bank storage, cold storage for large air-conditioning plants, mechanical batteries

Concepts that have changed the buying and selling of power include:

  • Power Purchase Agreements (PPA’s)
  • Peer to Peer selling (selling your solar to your family or friends)
  • Negative power prices (you can get paid to use power when the grid is overloaded)
  • Time of use billing

These changes in the energy sector are resulting in new and emerging job roles that are related to technical aspects, sales and forecasting.

The push for Australian made products, combined with unreliability of supply of imported products in the peak of COVID-19 turned many heads toward Australian manufacturing which boosted production and fostered product development and innovation.

Domestic tourism stimulated by local government promotion and state government grants and programs, plus general demand from the public who aren’t able to travel overseas but instead are spending money in cities and regions, is seeing accommodation (especially in regions) booked out.  Plus, you need other related jobs such as cleaners (who would have thought this job role would be so important?).

A key capability soon to be in high demand is pitching, presenting and persuasive public speaking.

If you are involved in educating, coaching and mentoring, tomorrow’s employees, entrepreneurs and innovators, then you might like to look into 21st Century Capabilities and Professional Development – Entrepreneurial Learning; Engaging Employers; Intro to the Ecosystem; and/or Pitching, Presenting and Persuasive Public Speaking Workshop.

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