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Hard skills v soft skills

Who would win in a fight? A TAFE NSW report reveals which skills you will need most, and how you can get them.

Hard skills v soft skills

A report by TAFE Enterprise, the commercial arm of TAFE NSW, identifies which industries will experience skill shortages, and what the future requirements of the Australian workforce will be.

The report, 'Hard versus Soft Skills: why successful Australian businesses need both' says that while certain hard skills-sets will be in-demand, you will definitely need to have a good look at your soft skills profile.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are: specific, quantifiable knowledge or abilities required for a job.

Increasingly the most sought-after hard skills will be in Information Communication Technology, machine learning algorithms, data science, drone piloting, information security, mechatronics and remote equipment management."

Let's call them the 'doing skills'. These skills are ones that you can learn through the more traditional education techniques and tend to be career-specific.

What are soft skills?

Soft skills are otherwise described as “human”, “social”, “emotional”, “interpersonal”, “people” skills.

They include communication, collaboration, customer service, ethics, creativity, complex problem solving, critical thinking, digital literacy, adaptability/'learn-ability', cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, initiative, judgement, decision-making, negotiation and persuasion, people management and conflict management.

Let's think about them as 'human' skills. These are skills that are about being human and interacting with other humans. And they are the most in-demand skills because they are transferable between jobs and even industries.

Why are soft skills important to employers?

You'll make better decisions: Soft skills such as creativity, adaptability, time management and collaboration allow employees to better process new information and make better decisions. 

You'll be more adaptable: "Initiative, persuasion and negotiation also make career progression easier," Dr Geethani Nair of as TAFE NSW explains. "People need the agility to be able to learn as they go, be able to change their tactics, and be in the moment as the technology and role changes.”

You'll be more engaged: Collaboration, ethics and complex problem-solving skills will mean that you will be a more valuable member of the diverse and dynamic teams that make up the modern business landscape.

How do you learn soft skills?

Soft skills are harder to measure and are also considered harder to teach. It has traditionally been thought that you either have soft skills or you don't. But that isn't the case. It just requires an innovative approach to training, and in the business setting, TAFE NSW can empower you to learn these soft skills.

TAFE Enterprise, the arm of TAFE NSW focused on industry training, also offers on-site, off-site and online training options in leadership and management, business, technology, workplace health and safety and more, to help make your business future-ready.


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