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We Read "The New Basics" Report So You Don't Have To

What big data says about the skills young people need for the ‘jobs of tomorrow’

Last week the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) released another report in their New Work Order series entitled ‘The New Basics: Big Data reveals the skills young people need for the New Work Order’.

Though heavy on the buzzwords of 2016 (disruption, innovation, digital literacy), it provides an important insight into what young people should be thinking about as they make higher education, training and employment decisions. 

The basis of the report is an analysis of 4.2 million job advertisements from 6000 websites from 2012-2015, aka ‘big data’ (in case you missed the memo- small data has had its day).

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Enterprise skills > technical skills (apparently)

According to the report, “enterprise skills” include problem solving, communications, financial literacy, critical thinking, creativity, team work, digital literacy and presentation skills- aka generic, soft or ‘21st century skills’. Technical skills on the other hand are those specific to a task, role or industry like writing code if you’re a computer programmer or cutting hair if you’re a hairdresser. Australia’s 4.3 million young people are not taught these skills enough, so FYA is calling for a ‘national enterprise skills strategy’.

Higher wages for enterprisin’ youth

Big data analysis reveals that wages are higher for young job seekers with these skills. For example, a young person with presentation skills is likely to be paid $8 853 more than similar jobs that don’t request these skills.

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..and they’re becoming more and more in demand across all occupations and industries

Early career job ads seeking applicants with ‘digital literacy’ skills has increased by 212%. Coming in second is demand for ‘critical thinking’ skills, which has increased by 158%. These skills are becoming more in demand than technical skills- the report suggests that an average job advertisement for a young person in 2015 is 20% more likely to specify enterprise skills than technical skills.

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..and this isn’t going to change anytime soon

FYA estimates that jobs of the future demand enterprise skills more than jobs of the past.

Jobs of the past means the jobs that are most likely to become automated in the next 10-15 years (FYA estimates that 40% jobs will be highly affected by automation in this period). For example, hundreds of thousands of machinery operators, secretaries and clerks, labourers and technician jobs have disappeared to automation and offshoring in the last few decades. However, huge numbers of new jobs are emerging in professional services and community and personal services.   

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So what can we do about this?

FYA’s focus is largely on using curriculum as the basis to structure change, citing examples of curriculum redesigns in Canada and Singapore. Changes to teaching methods are also highlighted, focusing on collaborative work, cross-disciplinary sessions and inquiry approaches and in class start-up projects. Partnerships with employers are also encouraged, so students can learn these skills in work-based environments. 

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