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Australian employers want more than a degree

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It’s the end of the year and for another cohort that means thinking about a course and an ensuing career, it’s worth noting that there are changes in the employment landscape and what employers are looking for.

A degree may no longer be enough in the eyes of an employer as organisations prioritise technical and soft skills.

78% of business managers forecast it will be more challenging to find qualified professionals in the coming five years despite 68% of the employed population holding a qualification

The top three skills needed to successfully lead a company into the digital future are technical know-how (57%), delegating decision making processes (53%) and communication skills (52%) 

The top three soft skills that will be more in demand over the next three years will be strategic thinking (39%), leadership (35%), and adaptability (34%); strategic thinking (34%), and leadership (33%) will also be the most challenging to find.

An independent survey of 620 hiring managers in Australia shows that 78% forecast it will be more challenging to find qualified professionals in the coming five years, despite 68% of the population holding a qualification.

What’s more, the qualities required to lead companies to success are evolving in line with this digitised shift. The top three skills managers will look for in candidates to successfully lead a company into the digital future are technical know-how (57%), delegating decision making processes (53%) and communication skills (52%).

The findings came from research by specialised recruiter Robert Half, Andrew Morris, Director says: “Higher academic qualifications are no longer the primary pathway for those entering the workforce to achieve their career goals. Given the rate at which technology evolves, the skills and knowledge required to fulfil a role successfully are changing at a greater rate than traditional university courses can adapt to so holding formal qualifications is becoming a less relevant indicator of a candidate’s suitability for a job.”

A strong academic record remains a valuable asset when looking for a job as it demonstrates intellectual capability, a learning mindset and a drive for success. As the Australian Bureau of Statistics Education and Work report indicates, more than 77% of the population who are employed hold a non-school qualification, with 33% holding a bachelor’s degree or above, indicating that non-school qualifications contribute to employability in Australia.

Morris adds, “While higher education is certainly considered a strength in the eyes of an employer, it doesn’t reflect a candidate’s growth potential, industry familiarity, or cultural alignment with a company. With every industry undergoing massive digital transformation, companies are looking for skilled candidates who can complement their automated processes with a depth of human insight and soft skills which an academic qualification cannot necessarily cultivate.” 

“It’s important to note that while degrees may no longer be a requirement for a role, applicants with a higher education qualification usually receive a higher starting salary than those who don’t have one.”


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