jobs search

Employability skills often count for more in job search than technical skills

Australian Jobs 2017 (48 pages) is intended ‘to support job seekers, careers intermediaries, those considering future training and work, and people interested in labour market issues.’ Sounds like a VET professional’s position description.

The Commonwealth Department of Employment report was released mid-year along with a one-page infographic Snapshot and a detailed Occupation Matrix (14 pages). The Matrix provides a line-by-line account of data in 23 job categories

Significant challenges for young job seekers

Australian Jobs 2017 contains sobering data alongside optimistic messages. On the sobering side of the ledger is that

‘… while the youth unemployment rate has fallen, from a recent peak of 14.3% in November 2014, to 12.3% in January 2017, it remains well above the 8.8% recorded in September 2008 and more than double the rate recorded for all persons.

If you’re under 25 it isn’t an easy job market. Nonetheless, while noting that ‘skill shortages are not widespread or significant in the Australian labour market at the moment,’ the prospects are much better if you have a post-school qualification:

‘In 2016, a markedly larger proportion of businesses which were recruiting workers for higher skilled occupations, such as Professionals, and Technicians and Trades Workers, reported that they had difficulty (41%) than those recruiting for lower skilled occupations, such as Labourers and Sales Workers (26%).’

The income benefits of VET qualifications

Employment prospects by industry vary of course, and Australian Jobs 2017 provides a guide on that score. Pages 13-30 breakdown employment by industry and occupation.

A broad summary on page 32 identifies links between VET qualifications and income, including:

  • Immediately after training, the median annual income for VET graduates working full-time was $56,000 in 2016. The highest salaries were for those who studied:
    • Education ($66,000)
    • Engineering and Related Technologies ($59,900)
    • Architecture and Building ($57,400)
    • Health ($57,400).

Job search planning

It’s important to have a network that helps in job seeking ­– as important as knowing how to formally apply for a position. The section of the report on ‘Job Search and Skills’ notes:

‘One third of vacancies are not formally advertised, with employers instead relying on a range of informal methods to fill their vacancies, such as word of mouth, being approached directly by job seekers, or placing a sign in the window of their business.’

Don’t forget employability skills like reliability, motivation, hard work, personal presentation, communication and teamwork skills, and organisational skills. Their value is captured in one sentence from the report:

‘Research by the Department has found that more than two thirds of employers place at least as much emphasis, if not more, on employability skills than they do on technical skills.’