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The role of transferable skills in employability

In this article, Dr Trina Jorre de St Jorre looks at the implications of globalisation and technology for the world of work.
Shot of a diverse team of colleagues having a video conference in a modern office
© Deakin University
Globalisation and technology are changing the world of work and the jobs on offer. In this article, Trina Jorre de St Jorre looks at the implications for employability skills.
For individuals, transferable skills are becoming increasingly important not only for obtaining jobs, but also for performing well in the workplace, negotiating uncertainty and adapting to changing job markets.
The very concept of a ‘career’ has changed as individuals are now more likely to move between disciplines or industries to accommodate new interests or better opportunities.
To maximise your career opportunities, you must be able to draw on all your experiences and transfer your professional knowledge, expertise and understanding across different contexts. Most importantly, you’ll need to be able to articulate and evidence what you know and can do.

What transferable skills are in demand?

Analysis of big data from job advertisements suggests that transferable skills such as communication, problem solving, teamwork and digital literacy are now in greater demand than ever before.
According to The New Basics report, an investigation of more than 6000 websites and 4.2 million job advertisements over three years (2012-2015) showed that transferable or ‘enterprise’ skills are:
  • demanded as often – if not more – than technical skills
    Transferable skills were specified in 20% more early-career job advertisements in 2015 than technical skills (those specific to a particular task, role or industry).
  • in increasing demand
    The proportion of jobs demanding critical thinking increased by 158%, creativity by 65%, presentation skills by 25% and teamwork by 19%.
  • associated with higher paid jobs
    Compared with jobs that do not list these skills, jobs that requested presentation skills paid an additional AU$8,853 per year, digital literacy an additional AU$8,648, problem solving an additional AU$7,745, financial literacy an additional AU$5,224 and creativity an additional AU$3,129.
  • important in all occupations, industries and sectors.

What does this mean for your employability?

Even for graduates, providing evidence of transferable skills beyond their degree requirements is important to gaining opportunities.
For example, some employers have removed degree requirements from their entry criteria and are instead making hiring decisions based on a candidate’s ability to evidence the specific skills needed in the role – regardless of whether these have been gained through formal or informal study, work or life experiences.

Your task

What do you think about this shift towards a more skills-based assessment of employees?
What could you do to leverage this shift to your advantage?
Discuss your thoughts with other learners in the comments.
© Deakin University
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