A well-educated, skilled and curious workforce will ultimately drive the innovation and growth agenda that will meet Australia’s Innovation Nation 2030 goals. As workplaces continue to digitally transform, demand is high for people with the right balance of technical and what has traditionally been referred to as ‘soft skills’ – creativity, problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration.

Intelligent technologies are disrupting the mix of skills needed for the future workforce. According to a recent Accenture analysis, It’s learning. Just not as we know it, every role will require a set of skills that are traditionally acquired through practice and experience. Complex reasoning, creativity, socio-emotional intelligence and sensory perception skills are becoming increasingly important in the workplace.

And employers expect nothing less of new graduates.

“With the rapid pace of change, leaders have less time to invest in training new hires as they adapt to their first role. They need people who understand the fundamentals of business and can hit the ground running,” says Professor Nick Wailes, Director AGSM and Deputy Dean UNSW Business School and creator of the new AGSM Master of Management program.

“We met with business leaders and hiring managers and they told us they want to hire graduates with diverse backgrounds, especially science, technology, the arts, engineering and maths,” he said. “We created a program that complements those technical capabilities with business knowledge and strong interpersonal skills,” he said.

As technology becomes embedded in every aspect of business operations, the management and leadership roles that rely heavily on these important human skills are also the ones predicted to grow.

“Power skills, durable skills, human skills, people skills, Emotional Intelligence: Whatever you want to call them, they’re in big demand now,” wrote Anne Fisher in Fortune magazine.

Here are four things recent graduates can do to prepare themselves for the future of work.

1. Become an effective leader

While an undergraduate degree equips students with technical skills they need for their future job, it doesn’t teach them the skills of effective leadership.

Without the right interpersonal skills, leaders can struggle to engage their teams and this can become a serious business issue. It may result in high turnover rates and employee disengagement. Effective leaders can make a positive impact at every level of an organisation, not just at the top – so a role as a leader can start much sooner in people’s career than they think.

Self-management skills will help students develop a clear understanding of their capabilities and areas for future development. The path to becoming an effective leader begins with proactive learning: developing a growth mindset and discovering new ways to work with and manage colleagues successfully.

2. Know how to enable business success in the digital age

If machines make up 42% of labour by 2022, as the World Economic Forum predicts, employees will need to understand how to effectively work with AI and automation technologies, and adapt to changing processes.

While these technologies will replace some human tasks, they won’t remove the need for people. Instead, the role of people will change – they will become thinkers, rather than doers. Their focus will shift from manual tasks to developing strategies around how to leverage technologies to meet organisational goals, drive business growth and sustainability.

Graduates need to delve into the basics of coding and explore the elements of the business technology stack and agile development through a program like AGSM’s Master of Management. This will give them the skills they need to harness technology’s power as their careers evolves.

3. Get the right mix of skills

Combining soft skills with technical and business know-how will become more valuable as careers advance – and these human skills are 49% more likely to be required for senior or leadership roles than other jobs, according to Burning Glass.

When graduates combine problem-solving skills with creativity, they are able to identify new opportunities, and apply new business models to respond to them. It’s also important to apply these sought-after problem-solving skills to organisational challenges – and clearly communicate value to stakeholders.

4. Put knowledge into practice

Bridging the gap between education and work can be challenging.

Finding a job that fulfils recent graduates’ hopes isn’t always easy. Developing their network, being clear about goals and understanding what employers are looking for can help them get their foot in the right door.

Once they’ve started in their first graduate role, they may find their employer’s expectations are quite different to what they’ve experienced in their studies. Developing successful relationships with internal and external stakeholders, communicating effectively and applying analytics skills to solve business problems are all part of the work environment.

Industry experience can help recent graduates prepare for these workforce realities. Real-life business projects allow students to put their learnings into practice, and start their career with confidence.

Becoming business-ready

Having the right mix of skills gives recent graduates a clear advantage – but they might not build them through traditional undergraduate degrees.

The AGSM Master of Management degree was designed in consultation with industry leaders to address this gap. Its contemporary program focuses on innovation, leadership and putting graduates’ existing analytical skills into practice – making them a valuable part of any team from day one. The degree uses a blend of experiential learning, real-life business projects and relevant industry experience to prepare graduates for the workforce.

Find out more about the program and get ready to outsmart the future of work

Find out more www.agsm.edu.au/MakeWay
Any questions call or e-mail:
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