The right mix of skills for success in business is critical. On an individual level, it broadens opportunities and earning capacity, while for business, it enables increased productivity, growth and innovation.
The past few years have seen government, educational and corporate sectors placing great emphasis on the attainment of measurable or ‘hard skills’ and growing Australia’s STEM pipeline. As technology continues to evolve, and with it, the way we do business, this trend is set to continue.
But what of the other skills required? As we shift from an industrial economy and race towards our digital future, it’s crucial that we don’t neglect the importance of interpersonal qualities. Often referred to as people skills or ‘soft skills’, those deemed most important according to a recent US study , include integrity, communication, courtesy, responsibility, social skills, positive attitude, professionalism, flexibility, teamwork, and work ethic.
In Australia, a 2015 survey initiated by TAFE Western Sydney Institute to determine the current and future skills-needs of Western Sydney revealed the increasing importance of soft skills. Of the 456 businesses surveyed, teamwork (98%), time management (97%) and communication skills (95%) were the skills reported as the most critical.
Despite the growing need for hard skills, employers consider soft skills as essential attributes for the success of both individuals and businesses. We therefore need to ensure graduates continue to develop the right mix of skills in preparation for the workplace.
In response to this, and in recognising that the development of business skills is separate to academic ability, ABCN will pilot Entrepreneurs Unearthed later this year. Supported by EY and CBA, this exciting new program involves students in Years 10, 11 and 12 sharing an innovative idea to further explore and develop. Focusing on entrepreneurship as a mindset, participants should have the ability to be a creative thinker and problem solver, an excellent communicator and someone who has the confidence to seize opportunities. At the same time, it will provide hands-on exposure to the world of business with all program sessions held at EY and CBA’s offices in Melbourne’s CBD over a three-month period.
Although the program is yet to kick-off in Victoria formally, the quality of applications has been pleasing and ABCN anticipates success and development of the program in other states. We look forward to sharing some of the short-listed applicants’ ideas with you over the coming months.
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