Companies are increasingly embracing new digital technologies and automation tools, allowing professionals to focus more on strategic, innovative and customer-focused work. This trend is expected to drive emerging job opportunities and growth in IT, communications, finance, insurance and professional services.

Robert Half has put together its insights from placing graduates and shares five useful tips for those entering the workforce

1. Equip yourself with in-demand technical skills

According to the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide, digitisation is transforming roles and processes across a range of industries, including in the finance and accounting sector. Companies are looking for finance and accounting professionals who can demonstrate skills in areas like Microsoft Dynamics 365, SAP/Oracle and are Chartered Accountant or Certified Practising Accountant accredited. In the financial services sector, the top skills in demand include IFRS 17 reporting, fund accounting and regulatory reporting. Experience comes from on-the-job training, so undertaking professional development programs and internships before finishing study can help foster this.

Within the IT industry, candidates with backgrounds in coding, especially Java, C#, C++, and in particular React are in high demand. At a minimum, new graduates should ensure they are able to read, work with, interpret and tell stories through data identifying and matching high appetite skills allows graduates to provide tangible value to an employer and as such distinguish themselves in the pool of competing applicants.

2. Soft skills matter

Alongside technical knowledge and digital prowess, emotional intelligence is becoming increasingly valued. Soft skills such as communication and negotiation, teamwork, creative problem solving and adaptability are now considered critical to career success, due to their role in influencing organisational stakeholders and making data-driven, strategic decisions.

Take, for example, the role of an accountant. Many businesses now have access to sophisticated automation software and AI, so they’re increasingly looking for trusted advisors that are excellent communicators, not just bookkeepers.

Following the Royal Banking Commission, financial institutions are under pressure to makeover their corporate culture and are looking to hire ethical talent with excellent personal skills.

To bolster their soft skills, new and upcoming graduates have a number of options available to compensate for the lack of professional experience. Internships, volunteering, temporary/part-time work, and adopting a ‘constant learning’ mindset can all help improve their employability in a thriving but highly competitive job market.

3. Prioritise professional development

With technology evolving faster than ever before, it is necessary for professionals to upskill regularly throughout their careers. In a skills-short labour market, public and private institutions alike recognise the need to train the incumbent workforce in high-demand skills, creating a new frontier of employable candidates that can then match and offset skill areas where industries are lacking.

Australian youth skills-focused programs include Microsoft’s National Skills Program, Qlik’s Data Literacy Program, and the Australian Government’s recently announced Skills Package for the VET sector.

Professionals entering the employment market would also benefit from choosing an employer who values upskilling and makes professional development and training a part of their ongoing activities. Training staff in both technical and soft skills is not only beneficial to the graduates’ careers, but it also encourages them to stay with the company.

4. Job for life is obsolete

While job-hopping has been traditionally frowned upon, many Australian employers have taken a more favourable attitude towards professionals who change jobs frequently.

While the broad and diverse skills that come with multiple jobs can help accelerate career advancement, it’s also recommended that Australian professionals who are still early in their career find a comfortable balance for themselves, as taking time to ‘grow into’ a role shows a loyalty that employers may reward with promotions and pay increases later on. Generally, however, young Australian professionals should not feel shy about seeking new opportunities if they feel they are lacking in their current workplace.

5. Consider temporary jobs

Graduates should also consider temporary or project work. Working on an interim basis can help people entering the employment market learn new skills and experience and build their professional network. Through these employment opportunities, they can also determine what type of company they’d like to work for over the long term. Many employers are receptive towards hiring temporary staff as they realise the benefits offered by having a mix of both contract and permanent staff, with 72% of CFOs surveyed for the 2019 Robert Half Salary Guide saying that contract workers are a key component of their department’s long-term staffing strategy.

This positive turnaround is also having a direct impact on the career paths of temporary professionals as top performers are in turn being offered permanent positions by their employer if and when there’s an available opportunity.

Are You Developing Skills That Won’t Be Automated?


The future of work looks grim for many people. A recent study from Forresterestimated that 10% of U.S. jobs would be automated this year, and another from McKinsey estimates that close to half of all U.S. jobs may be automated in the next decade.

The jobs that are likely to be automated are repetitive and routine. They range from reading X-rays (human radiologists may soon have much more limited roles), to truck driving, to stocking a warehouse. While much has been written about the sorts of jobs that are likely to be eliminated, another perspective that has not been examined in as much detail is to ask not which jobs will be eliminated but rather which aspects of surviving jobs will be replaced by machines.

For example, consider the job of being a physician: It is clear that diagnosing illnesses will soon (if not already) be accomplished better by machines than humans. Machine learning is spectacularly effective when data sets are available for training and testing, which is the case for a wide range of diseases and ailments. However, what about sitting with a family to discuss treatment options? This is far less likely to be automated in the foreseeable future.


Now consider a profession at the other end of the status spectrum: barista. In San Francisco, Cafe X has replaced all baristas with industrial robot arms, which entertain customers with their antics as they make hot beverages. However, even Cafe X employs a human, who shows customers how to use the technology to order their drinks and troubleshoots problems that arise with the robot barista.

Contrast being a barista with being a bartender. People often strike up a conversation with the bartender. This job clearly is about more than just mixing drinks. Like the physician, we can easily parse this job into two components: the repetitive and routine one (actually mixing and serving the drinks) and the more interactive, unpredictable one that involves listening to and talking with customers.

After reflecting on characteristics of numerous jobs and professions, two non-routine kinds of work seem to me to be particularly common, and difficult to automate:

First, emotion. Emotion plays an important role in human communication (think about that physician sitting with the family, or that bartender interacting with customers). It is critically involved in virtually all forms of nonverbal communication and in empathy. But more than that, it is also plays a role in helping us to prioritize what we do, for example helping us decide what needs to be attended to right now as opposed to later in the evening. Emotion is not only complex and nuanced, it also interacts with many of our decision processes. The functioning of emotion has proven challenging to understand scientifically (although there has been progress), and is difficult to build into an automated system.

Second, context. Humans can easily take context into account when making decisions or having interactions with others. Context is particularly interesting because it is open ended — for instance, every time there’s a news story, it changes the context (large or small) in which we operate. Moreover, changes in context (e.g., the election of a maverick President) can change not just how factors interact with each other, but can introduce new factors and reconfigure the organization of factors in fundamental ways. This is a problem for machine learning, which operates on data sets that by definition were created previously, in a different context. Thus, taking context into account (as a congenial bartender can do effortlessly) is a challenge for automation.

Our ability to manage and utilize emotion and to take into account the effects of context are key ingredients of critical thinking, creative problem solving, effective communication, adaptive learning, and good judgment. It has proven very difficult to program machines to emulate such human knowledge and skills, and it is not clear when (or whether) today’s fledgling efforts to do so will bear fruit.

And in fact, these are the very skills that employers across industries consistently report seeking in job candidates. For example, in one survey, 93% of employers reported that “a candidate’s demonstrated capacity to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than his or her undergraduate major.”  In addition, employers seek candidates who have other sorts of “soft skills,” such as being able to learn adaptively, to make good decisions and to work well with others. These sought-after abilities, of course, fit perfectly with the sorts of things that people can do well, but are and will continue to be difficult to automate.

All of this suggests that our educational systems should concentrate not simply on how people interact with technology (e.g., by teaching students to code), but also how they can do the things that technology will not be doing soon. This is a new approach to characterizing the underlying nature of “soft skills,” which are probably misnamed: These are the skills that are hardest to understand and systematize, and the skills that give — and will continue to give —humans an edge over robots.


ACS report highlights skills shortage in tech sector

The professional association for Australia’s technology sector, ACS, has launched a report highlighting skills shortages in the technology sector, with an additional 100,000 workers reportedly needed by 2024.

The 2019 ACS Australia’s Digital Pulse report outlines a number of policy priorities for recommended implementation to assist the growth of Australia’s digital economy and meet the demands of a successful workforce.

Prepared by Deloitte Access Economics, the report reveals there are inhibitors to the supply of talented technology professionals to meet Australia’s growth ambitions and provides an economic evidence base of the policy levers that may best remove these barriers.

“Meeting the voracious demands for more technology workers and increased investments from Australia’s businesses will be a huge challenge,” said ACS President Yohan Ramasundara.

“Australia’s future prosperity in an increasingly digitised world will depend upon ongoing investment in emerging technologies and further development in the digital skills required to build, deploy and apply them.

“While university completions in technology degrees have risen slightly, there was a significant decline of 11,875 technology subject enrolments between 2016 and 2017 in the VET sector. For Australia to be a competitive player in the world economy, our policymakers, businesses, workers and communities need to work better together to address the challenges of technology-related skills, investment and collaboration.”

The report also explores how digital technologies can further power Australia’s economic growth, with the contribution of digital to GDP expected to grow 40 per cent between 2018 and 2023.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner John O’Mahony said that the economic benefits of digital technologies to productivity and GDP only provide one perspective on how these technologies have led to improved living standards across the Australian population.

“There are also a range of other types of gain, such as better access to and quality of healthcare and education services, as well as non-monetary benefits such as increased choice and lower travel times,” said O’Mahony.


National Skills Needs List to be updated

Review to ensure skills shortages are identified.

The government will replace the National Skills Needs List (NSNL) after a review of the program.

Since 2007, the NSNL has determined which jobs are eligible for payments under the Incentives for Australian Apprenticeships (IAA) program.

Senator Michaelia Cash announced the modernisation project on Thursday.

“The review will ensure skills shortages are identified using a forward-looking, up-to-date methodology and that apprenticeship incentives are targeted at addressing critical skills shortages in the Australian economy,” Minister Cash said.

“Developing a robust and enduring approach to determining how apprenticeship incentives address skills shortages is part of the Morrison Government’s commitment to maintaining a strong vocational education and training sector that supports employers’ needs and builds a skilled workforce.”

Currently, to be added to the NSNL, an occupation must meet a set of criteria including:

  • That it is classified under Major Group 3 Technicians and Trades Workers of the Australia and New Zealand standard classification of occupations
  • At least 1,500 people are employed in the occupation
  • And that it is assessed as being in skills shortage for three of the past five years

The current list, that includes trades like ‘landscape gardener’, ‘lift mechanic’, and ‘picture framer’ has few IT jobs, despite persistent sector shortages.

And because the NSNL has not been updated since 2011, only 22 of the 65 jobs on it meet the selection criteria.

The review Issues Paper outlines how the current NSNL methodology is insufficient for its scope.

“While the employment and research thresholds provide a measure of rigor in determining the existence of skills shortages, the outcome may be that critical skills shortages in small or niche occupations are allowed to persist,” it said.

Earlier this month, the government expanded its Global Talent visa scheme, allowing businesses to look overseas for highly skilled workers in niche occupations.

The review has begun its consultation phase and Cash encouraged community response to the published issue paper.

“I urge stakeholders with an interest in building a high-quality Australian workforce with the skills that employers need to contribute to this important review,” she said.

Submissions to the review close on September 27.


Revealed: Australian industries that will see highest job growth in next five years

skilled migrants

Which industries will create the most jobs in the coming five years? Take a look at the industries predicted to create most jobs in Australia according to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

According to the Australian Jobs report, Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business’s annual publication about the Australian labour market there has been a significant shift away from medium-skill jobs towards higher-skill jobs in last two decades and a decline in lower-skill jobs.

The report states having the ‘ability to gain new skills and apply existing skills to new contexts will be critical to success in the changing labour market’.

A recent survey by the World Economic Forum found employers thought that, by 2022, more than half of all current employees would require significant reskilling or upskilling.

“Interestingly, the majority of employment growth over the past five years has been in occupations that generally require post-school qualifications.

“This is a long-term trend that is expected to continue, with the vast majority of jobs growth over the next five years projected to be in higher-skilled occupations,” Labour market analyst Ivan Neville said.

With the job market continuously evolving, here’s a look at the industries that will create maximum new jobs or see large falls in employment in Australia in the next five years.

Industries that will see maximum job creation:

According to the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, most new jobs will be created in four specific industries – Health Care and Social Assistance, Construction, Education and Training and Professional, Scientific and Technical Services.

Health Care and Social Assistance industry is projected to have the strongest employment growth of any industry over the five years to May 2023,’ says the Australian Jobs report.

The top employing occupations in this industry are registered nurses, aged and disabled carers, child carers, nursing support and personal care workers and receptionists.

Construction industry which employs carpenters and joiners, electricians, construction managers, plumbers, is projected to have above-average employment growth over the five years to May 2023.

Education and Training employment is projected to increase strongly over the five years to May 2023, influenced by growth in the school-aged population, continued strength in international education and the growing demand for adult and community education.

There will be a great demand for primary and secondary school teachers, education aides, University lecturers and tutors.

The demand for highly educated workers like accountants, software and applications programmers, solicitors, graphic and web designers who come in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services industry category is too projected to increase strongly over the five years to 2023.

Industries with job growth

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Industries that will see a big decline in jobs:

Machinery and Equipment Wholesaling, Printing, Agriculture, Polymer Product and Rubber Product Manufacturing and Non-Metallic Mineral Product Manufacturing will see a big decline in employment prospects.

Employment is projected to fall in Wholesale Trade (down by 9,700, or 2.7%) and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing (1,400, or 0.4%).

The 10 industry subdivisions that are projected to record the largest falls in employment include some in Wholesale Trade and Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing but, notably, employment in a number of manufacturing subsectors is also projected to fall.

industries with job decline

The Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

‘Not just technical skills but need to be a whole package’

Melbourne-based career coach, Naishadh Gadani says the latest data is in sync with the trends seen now.

“It is mostly driven by population growth and the growing number of seniors in our country. Health Care and Social Assistance is creating a lot of jobs right now and will continue to grow in the next five years. With a booming population, we need more hospitals and medical staff and with an increased focus on aged-care and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), there is a big demand for aged-care workers and disability carers,” Mr Gadani told SBS Hindi.

Mr Gadani says the demand for school teachers and university lecturers too will continue in the next five years due to the population boom in big cities.

“Population growth means we need more schools and therefore this report rightly points out that primary and secondary school teachers, as well as university lecturers, will be in great demand in the next five years.

But it is not just technical skills that will land you the role, says labour market analyst Ivan Neville.

Mr Neville noted that the jobs market is highly competitive and employers are not just looking for people with technical skills but for people who have the ‘whole package’.

“In addition to education and experience, employers increasingly value staff who have employability skills — which includes personal and people skills, a good work ethic and the ability to work in a team.”

(This is part one of our report on Australian Job Market Outlook)

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Queensland facing potential skills shortages in 139 different areas

Queensland could soon be struggling for workers in dozens of skills areas from plumbing to robotics unless changes are made to vocational education, the state’s Premier says.

Annastacia Palaszczuk on Friday identified 139 potential future skills shortages in traditional, but rapidly changing professions.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia's future skills training system.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk speaks to the media alongside Tourism Minister Kate Jones about the need to revamp Australia’s future skills training system.CREDIT:AAP

Electrical works, plumbing, engineering, healthcare, hospitality, early childhood, digital technologies, robotics and utilities all fit the bill.

Skills and training were among a number of issues Australia’s premiers, chief ministers and the prime minister tackled on Friday at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns.

Ms Palaszczuk’s comments came before the meeting and the council later produced a vision statement for a revamp of Australia’s vocational education training sector.

Ms Palaszczuk said future skills shortages were the reason the Queensland government launched a “free” apprenticeships scheme on August 5, which will cost taxpayers $32 million.

That policy will encourage 60,000 Queenslanders under 21 to take up an apprenticeship.

“They will be in skills areas where we have recognised where we will have skills shortages in the decades to come,” Ms Palaszczuk said.

“Queensland has already done the work and identified 139 skills where there could be shortages into the future.”

After the meeting Ms Palaszczuk said the $32 million funding would pay for the training component for apprentices to make taking on an apprentice more cost-effective for businesses.

“I think we need to make it easier for young people to get a loan if they choose to go into vocational education and training,” she said, adding that traineeship fees needed to be simplified.

At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.
At its peak in 2014, total government expenditure in the training sector was more than $9 billion a year but by 2018 this had fallen to well below $7 billion.CREDIT:STEVEN SIEWERT

“There has a been a lot of focus in the past on university education but I think there needs to be an equal focus on vocational education because there is going to be a skills shortage and we need to get young people into these employment opportunities now.”

Prime Minister Scott Morison said the “jobs of the future” weren’t just in technology, but increasingly in human services areas such as aged or disability care.

He said parents should be confident about their child’s future if they chose to pursue a trade or a skills-based education.

“It is not second prize,” he said.

The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.

A new COAG Skills Council will present leaders with a reform road map for the sector in early 2020.

A detailed federal government study, Strengthening Skills, released earlier this agreed changes were needed to simplify student loans.

“The Commonwealth and the states and territories agree to develop a simpler, nationally consistent funding policy for all government-subsidised qualifications, which provides confidence and certainty to trainees, industry, employers and all funded providers, public or private,” the Joyce report says.

Ms Palaszczuk said work to restrict Australia’s waste export industry and control plastics and packaging was also commendable.


Skills council to drive vocational education reform

The current training system need to be more agile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Picture: Marc McCormack/AAP
The current training system need to be more agile, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. Picture: Marc McCormack/AAP

The federal and state governments will create a new “skills council” to drive vocational education reform and deliver a plan to overhaul the sector next year, as premiers unite with Scott Morrison to put TAFE on an equal footing with universities.

Businesses and the housing ­industry hailed the Council of Australian Governments commitment to VET yesterday following warnings of skills shortages in some sectors and calls for bolder reforms to fix the nation’s training system.

“It needs to be agile, it needs to be modern, it needs to be up to date,” the Prime Minister said. “It can take you 12 months to change a qualification in this country.

“I mean, that’s not agile and that needs to be improved. I want, and we all want, students, whatever age they are — they could be 21, they could be 61 and going through a career change, or 41, or whatever age it is. And I want them to have confidence that that system is going to help them with their ­future intentions and their future careers.”

COAG released a “vision” for the VET sector, including that it provides workforce skills and relevant, up-to-date qualifications that are matched to the evolving opportunities and challenges of the economy.

“A co-operative approach ­between the federal government, state and territory governments, together with meaningful consultation with industry, will help to deliver a much-needed refresh for the VET sector,” the Housing ­Industry Association’s Kristin Brookfield said.

Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive James Pearson said COAG’s agreements — including that the skills council advise leaders on ­future reform priorities by the end of the year — marked a new page in the country’s education and training manual.

“Our parliamentary leaders have come together to agree on what that looks like — a vision where VET and university education are given equal standing,” Mr Pearson said.

Also discussed at COAG was the embattled Murray-Darling Basin Plan, with all states agreeing to reaffirm their commitment to the plan and to the appointment of an inspector-general to oversee water resources and ­improve transparency and accountability.

The state leaders acknowledged the impact the drought was having on rural communities.


Morrison urges states to act on skills

PM Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders hold a formal COAG meeting in Cairns on Friday.

 PM Scott Morrison and state and territory leaders hold a formal COAG meeting in Cairns on Friday.

The nation’s leaders will grapple with the best way to give Australians the skills they and employers need for the jobs of the future.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he had a good discussion on the topic with premiers and chief ministers over dinner in Cairns on Thursday night and expects to make further progress during the formal Council of Australian Governments meeting on Friday.

“Qualifications and accreditations aren’t keeping pace with the modern economy and employers are not getting people out of the training system they need that can actually make their business work better,” he told 2GB radio ahead of the meeting.

Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk – the only leader to speak heading into the meeting – expects the issue to be front and centre of the discussion.

“We need to make it easier for young people to get a loan if they choose to go into vocational education and training,” she told reporters.

“There has been a lot of focus in the past on university education and I think we need to have an equal focus on VET education because there is going to be a skill shortage.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian wants a national approach to look at vocational training and universities as a single sector, something the Business Council of Australia has also been pushing for over several years.

The federal government funded a National Skills Commission in its April budget, to better identify and plan for skills shortages and work with industry to design training courses, but it is yet to be established.

Federal Labor’s education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek accused the government of having gutted TAFEs and now offering to put back a paltry amount of cash.

“When will the Liberals do something serious to fix the skills crisis they have created?” she told AAP.

“By locking Australians out of TAFE and training, the Liberals are locking Australians out of jobs. By presiding over a skills crisis, the Liberals are holding Australian businesses back.”

But Mr Morrison pointed out more than four in five Australians in training went through private providers, with only about 16 per cent studying at TAFEs.

“The problem I’ve got at the moment is the way the system is funded and the way the system is run,” he said.

Ahead of the main COAG meeting, leaders in the Murray-Darling Basin states signed an agreement about the management of the basin plan, in line with what water ministers decided last Sunday.

The COAG agenda is also expected to cover mental health and suicide, domestic violence, infrastructure, preschool education, population planning, and indigenous disadvantage.

Leaders are expected to agree on a plan for tackling plastic waste, which is reaching crisis point after China stopped accepting foreign recycling imports.

“I know this, as you all do, is an issue of great concern right across the community and I’m very encouraged by some progress we’re already making on that front,” Mr Morrison said in his opening remarks.

Outside the Cairns Convention Centre, about two dozen protesters gathered calling for action on climate change.

A woman wearing a pink Extinction Rebellion shirt said she was there to perform a citizen’s arrest on Mr Morrison and ministers Angus Taylor and Matt Canavan for crimes against humanity and the environment.


Skills, not job titles, are the new metric for the labour market

The Shanghai city skyline
Shanghai … a training pool for other regions.

The rise of tech is currently transforming the labour market, leading to the automation of some jobs and tasks on the one hand and the emergence of new kinds on the other. Proactively preparing for this new reality requires an in-depth, granular understanding of these changes and their impact on jobs and employment. LinkedIn data is able to provide additional insight on this by taking a skills-based approach to labour-market analysis.

Skills are the new currency on the labour market. Skills indicate demand and supply at a more nuanced level than occupations, whose required expertise and skills are changing increasingly quickly, and degrees, which are often already outdated by the time they are obtained. The current pace of change requires following the direction of a skills-based, rather than degree-based labor market, which is a much more dynamic variable. Using skills as a variable of analysis provides a powerful tool in helping policymakers prepare for the future while building resilience in the present day.

Based on these shifts, LinkedIn has developed the Skills Genome — a new metric, which allows us to harness that analytical power to gain a more granular understanding of labour market trends and developments. Using skills information provided by LinkedIn’s Economic Graph, a digital representation of the global economy based on data generated from 630 million members with more than 35,000 skills globally, the metric allows us to define and analyse the unique skills profile of various segments of the labor market. We can use it to identify those skills that are more prevalent in one segment compared to others. These segments can include a geography (e.g. a city), an industry, a job type (e.g. data scientists), or a population (e.g. women).

In China, for example, we examined the dynamics of digital skills across two of the most economically active and open regions: Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area and Yangtze River Delta. In a report on digital economy and talent development in the former, we found that China’s Greater Bay Area has an overall net inflow of talent equipped with digital skills, and Shenzhen is a digital talent hub in the Greater Bay Area. We also found that talent in the region mainly majored in finance and technical fields of study, and possesses general-purpose skills such as project management and leadership, with a relatively low level of integration of digital skills. Soft skills like management, leadership and negotiation rank higher in this region, regardless of high-level talents or digital talents.

In a similar report for the Yangtze River Delta Region, we found that Shanghai plays an important role in training and developing junior-level talent with diversified skills to support other regions. We also found that the top 10 fastest growing positions in the past four years are all considered intermediate and senior management positions covering customer service, marketing, finance, products, operations and other functions. Skills that have seen the sharpest increase can be divided into four categories: (1) functional skills such as marketing and customer service; (2) soft-power skills such as leadership; (3) digital skills such as social media; and (4) value-added skills such as English. The categories of skills indicate that the Yangtze River Delta region is increasingly open to the wider world and has become increasingly linked to digital opportunities.


Opportunities for Australia to Help Close Indonesia’s Skills Gap

Jarryd de Haan, Research Analyst, Indian Ocean Research Programme


Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo met with his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on 29 June. According to a media release from the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Jokowi made a statement during that meeting which said that: ‘Within the next five years, Indonesia will drive its priority focus on human resources improvement, including the development of vocational education and higher education sectors’. He added that Indonesia wishes for greater co-operation with Australia to help it reach those goals. Those comments came one day after a Roundtable event in Perth titled ‘Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) in Mining and Tourism sectors: Opportunities and Challenges’. The Roundtable was convened by the Indonesian Embassy in Canberra, in collaboration with the Consulate-General in Perth.


As discussed in a previous Strategic Analysis Paper, Indonesia needs to maintain a GDP growth rate of approximately five to six per cent to achieve the goal of becoming the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050. In a bid to achieve this, Indonesia is seeking significant investment in a number of key priority sectors, including: infrastructure; manufacturing; maritime; agriculture; tourism and digital. As investment is poured into those sectors, significant growth in the supply of skilled workers will be needed to fulfil their growing demands. Unfortunately, Indonesia currently suffers from a skills shortage.

To remedy that skills shortage, the education sector needs to offer opportunities for Indonesian workers to develop the skills they need. Currently, however, the number of students enrolled in courses related to priority sectors, does not match the number needed to effectively sustain those sectors. Additionally, as noted by some attendees at the Roundtable event, there is, in some cases, a significant gap between the certifications offered and what is required by industry employers seeking skilled workers.

The Indonesian Government, therefore, needs to balance procuring investment in key sectors with investment in its education sector. The pending ratification of the Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement will help facilitate investment. Australia can then play a major role in developing Indonesia’s education sector. The potential for Australia’s involvement has already been recognised by some Indonesian officials, as noted by Tom Lembong, the head of Indonesia’s Investment Coordinating Board. He considers that the solution to Indonesia’s skills problem is Chinese capital combined with Australian training.

Much of that potential lies in developing TVET for the Indonesian mining sector. Australia is already a significant investor in the sector, which accounts for 64.3% of Canberra’s total investment in the country over the past five years. Australia’s experience in heading a nationally regulated and consistent TVET programme, with regular input from the relevant industries, is also invaluable to Indonesia.

As noted by the secretary general of the Ministry of Research, Technology, and Higher Education, Professor Ainun Na’im, Indonesia’s vocational training is traditionally based on an academic level, with a record of poor co-operation with industries seeking to employ future graduates. Adopting practices from Australia’s approach to TVET, could address many of the skills shortages that Indonesia faces across a variety of sectors.


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