Technology is changing the job market. We see it every day. From self-serve checkouts to self-driving cars, the automated future we once imagined in sci-fi books and movies is increasingly becoming a reality. Yet regardless of how advanced technology becomes, chatbots and virtual assistants will always lack one vital ingredient: human skills.
These are the essential skills that help you communicate and interact with people. Employers value human skills because they define how successfully you work with customers and team members. They improve your ability to listen, empathise, think critically and problem solve.
It’s these human skills, combined with your academic skills, that help you gain an advantage in today’s job market.
‘Human skills are important because as human beings we need to interact with other human beings,’ says Carol Cathcart, Regional General Manager of AFL Central Victoria.
As more and more mundane tasks become automated, there could be the need for less human interaction. The thing that will make a difference in delivering great experiences will be that moment of human interaction. And that really needs those human skills, like empathy, understanding, care and passion.’
The skills employers want
We’ve spoken to business leaders from a wide range of industries, including AFL Victoria and Adobe APAC, about the human skills and qualities they look for in graduates.
‘Curiosity is king for me,’ says Suzanne Steele, CEO of Adobe APAC. ‘Not accepting the status quo. Being willing to question why things are happening the way they’re happening, and why we do things as we’re doing them.’
‘Creativity is absolutely critical to the work we do,’ says Teresa Jayet, CEO of Mallee Family Care. ‘You need to be quick on your feet and utilise the people you work with to brainstorm. Being part of a team environment and being a team player means ensuring you get better outcomes for the people you’re working with.’
Adaptability was also a major drawcard. ‘A clever way to advance your career is to be really adaptable,’ says Steven Reaper, CEO of AFL Victoria. ‘The key to being adaptable is having that ability to self-reflect. Speak to mentors constantly and make sure that you’re open-minded and receptive to the advice you receive.’
A similar but equally valuable quality mentioned was resilience. The ability to learn from your mistakes and push on.
The advice I would give is don’t be afraid of the F-word,’ says Suzanne Steele. ‘The F-word meaning Fail. Because failure gets you closer to success.’
‘Empathy is essential,’ says Marnie Baker, CEO and Managing Director of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank. ‘Being able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and have empathy with the position they’re taking, will be beneficial to the relationship that you have with that person.’
Using the feedback and insights we’ve received from employers, La Trobe has developed the Career Ready Advantage. This personalised program helps equip students with the human skills that workplaces value.
At La Trobe, we’re committed to developing these skills in our students so they can be all kinds of clever. But don’t just take it from us. ‘The benefit of hiring La Trobe graduates these days,’ says Steven Reaper, ‘is they come out with a whole different range of new skills that, in the past, haven’t necessarily been taught. Emotional intelligence, empathy, tenacity, negotiation, problem-solving, communication. A whole range of human skills, that any employer is looking for in this day and age.’
What might you study at La Trobe University?