Blogs (Career Inspiration Articles)

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.

Hard skills explained

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

Increasingly, the most sought after hard skills will be in the areas of information and communications technology, machine learning algorithms, data science, drone piloting, information security, mechatronics, and remote equipment management."

Hard skills are sometimes referred to as the 'doing skills'. These skills are ones that you can learn through the more 'traditional' education techniques and tend to be career specific.

Soft skills explained

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

These are often considered 'human' skills, as they are about being human and interacting with other humans. They are the most in-demand skills because they are transferable between jobs and even industries.


Why soft skills are important to employers

You will 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 will be more adaptable: "Initiative, persuasion and negotiation also make career progression easier," Dr Geethani Nair of 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 will 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 to 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. However, that simply 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.


Read the full report