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How important is skills portability?

Posted on April 6, 2017

Most people in the Australian workforce now accept and understand that jobs come and go and that shifting sands is the new norm across many industries. And that is not to mention the rise of contract, part-time and casual work arrangements that do not add to feelings of confidence of employment certainty, nor under-employment which often forces people into multiple, simultaneous work roles.

But how well prepared are people for job change – especially if it means an attempt to demonstrate skill portability to a different industry or work context? And – how accepting are employers, recruiters and human resources systems of the idea of portable skills? Does the idea of portable skills offer a solution for industries with skills gaps?

A recent report The New Work Mindset developed by the Foundation for Young Australians, has analysed more than 2.7 million job advertisements to reveal 7 new job/skills clusters in the Australian economy where the required skills are closely related and more portable than previously thought.

The report highlights the need for debate about the kind of mindsets required for young Australians to successfully navigate a more dynamic future of work. Instead of focusing upon a particular occupation, for example, a young person could think about developing a portfolio of skills that opens doors to a group or ‘cluster’ of jobs. The report estimates that on average skills acquired from one job are portable to 13 other jobs.

This does not mean that job switches will not require additional technical skills or subject matter expertise acquired through formal and/or on-the-job training. But some job switches may only demand a few new skills.

With increasing job uncertainty, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity for the Australian economy and population more broadly. At a very human level, it represents hope and potentially opens doors for people who feel helpless or limited in their employability. For employers, it offers the possibility of a much wider pool of prospective employees from both within and outside the industry sector they represent.

So what are the 7 new job/skills clusters?

The Generators cluster focuses on skills related to generating sales and interpersonal interaction in retail, hospitality and entertainment.

The Artisans cluster includes skills related to generic manual tasks as well as technical skills specific to construction, production, maintenance or technical customer service.

The Carers cluster includes generic and technical skills related to improving the mental or physical health/wellbeing of others, including medical, care and personal support services.

The Technologists cluster focuses on the skilled understanding and manipulation of digital technology, including programming and IT software development.

The Coordinators cluster includes skills related to administrative tasks and behind-the-scenes process or service tasks.

The Informers cluster focuses on skills related to the content required to provide education or business advisory services and teaching related skills.

The Designers cluster deploys skills and knowledge of maths, science and design to construct or engineer products or buildings.

The Mid North Coast Skills Audit being conducted by RDAMNC includes obtaining feedback from business and industry in relation to future skills needs during April and May. The concept of portable skills is included in the Audit. Findings from the Skills Audit will be available in July 2017.

To participate in the MNC Skills audit CLICK HERE
Steve Montgomery is Regional Development Australia’s Pathways Officer
Contact Steve HERE

(includes content from The New Work Mindset, Foundation for Young Australians)