Preparing VET for the jobs of tomorrow

The employee of the future requires more than technical skills.

Skills for employability

To be effective in work, the employee of the future requires more than technical skills. Many of the skills employers search for in candidates are characterised as soft employability skills. Globally, these skills are categorised as capabilities – the personal attributes and innate ability of the individual (International Labour Organisation (2021) Global framework on core skills for life and work in the 21st century(opens in a new window), July.)

The International Labor Organisation (ILO) in assessing global and country frameworks across the developed and developing world, has defined capabilities as a set of core skills that sit alongside technical skills. Individuals require both if they are to succeed in work and life.

The core skills are social and emotional, cognitive and metacognitive (that is, the ability to develop an awareness and understanding of their own thought processes) basic digital skills and basic skills for clean economy jobs, and they characterise what employers express in job advertisements, across occupations and different levels of jobs.

Analysis of job advertisements in Victoria place communication as the most sought after core skill, followed by planning and teamwork or collaboration.

As digital technology fundamentally changes the way Victorians live and work (Victorian Government (2021), A future-ready Victoria(opens in a new window), Victorian Government Digital Strategy 2021–2026(opens in a new window), October, p. 7; Victorian Government (2021), Victoria’s Cyber Strategy 202(opens in a new window)1, April, p. 6.), employers are also increasingly seeking workers with the right level of digital skills for the job.

Top 10 requested core skills in Victoria for 2023

The top 10 requested core skills in Victoria for 2023 are:

  • communications skills
  • planning
  • teamwork or collaboration
  • detail-orientated
  • building relationships
  • organisational skills
  • problem solving
  • effective relationships
  • time management
  • digital literacy.

Demand for all of these skills increased between 2015 and 2023.

The question remains of whether a worker acquires their capabilities through formal teaching and assessment. These capabilities may also result from a combination of a worker’s core attributes, knowledge and technical skills, aided by an inclusive and facilitative workplace that gives them the confidence to operate collaboratively.

With collaboration increasing as a key feature of workplaces, the issue warrants investigation, especially for traditional vocational education with its heavy focus on demonstration of technical skills.

For vocational education and training (VET) training to continue to be responsive to the needs of the economy and equip learners with the skills to bolster their career prospects, consideration needs to be placed on vocational education that fosters and develops technical and core skills.

Demand for technical skills – industry specific skills that are unique to a task or that primarily occur within a subset of occupations – is also changing over time. Time taken to develop these technical skills varies considerably and can occur either on the job or through formal training. The ILO Global framework provides a global reference point for considering the place of capability development within vocational education. The learner voice will also provide a critical perspective.

These are aspects central to the Victorian Skills Authority's task of planning for the future skills which activate learners and power industry with the skills and capabilities they need. They also inform the consideration of VET qualification design underway by skills ministers.

ILO Global Framework for core skills

Social and emotional skills

  • Communication
  • Collaboration and teamwork
  • Conflict resolution and negotiation
  • Emotional intelligence.

Cognitive and meta-cognitive skills

  • Foundational literacies
  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Creative and innovative thinking
  • Strategic thinking
  • Problem solving and decision making
  • Self-reflection and learning to learn
  • Collect, organise and analyse information
  • Planning and organising
  • Career management.

Basic skills for clean economy jobs

  • Environmental awareness
  • Waste reduction and waste management, and
  • Energy and water efficiency.

Basic digital skills

  • Using basic hardware and software
  • Operating safely in an online environment.

Recommendations

The Victorian Skills Authority continues to lead the work on the future skills needs of Victoria and the implications for designing and delivering post-secondary education and training, in collaboration with Jobs and Skills Australia, the Office of TAFE Coordination and Delivery, the Department of Jobs, Skills, Industry and Regions, and industry, and using the latest data and insights.

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