Soft skills are essential in the Australian workforce, however businesses are failing to invest in their own employees, according to a new study by The Australian Institute of Management (AIM).
The ‘AIM Soft Skills Survey 2019’ found nine out of ten Australian leaders perceive soft skills as critical when hiring new talent, and 80.5% of Australian business leaders believe soft skill development is very or extremely important.
However, the survey also highlights that despite 51.9% of Australian businesses allocating more than $1,000 per employee on a total L&D budget, in 2019 it is predicted that 43.6% will invest less than $500 per employee in soft skills training.
CEO of AIM, Ben Foote, said the results highlight that Australian leaders understand the need for soft skills, yet many are not willing to invest in their own employees to help further their soft skills.
The top three skills employers were able to identify to be the most important soft skills are communication – 75.6% of responders, leadership – 55% of responders and emotional intelligence – 52.2% of responders.
Foote added that communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence are “the key to an organisation’s growth” and are the soft skills that will help businesses be more competitive, to grow and to create a positive internal culture.
“In the age of digital disruption, automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence, the technical skills learnt one day can be obsolete the next,” said Foote.
In order to thrive in a rapidly shifting landscape, organisations have no choice but to prepare their workforce for what the World Economic Forum has described as the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, according to the research.
Only 5.3% of Australian leaders feel very well equipped to assess soft skills, yet subjective assessment is overwhelmingly used when hiring with 96.1% using interviews and 71.4% using references.
“To create an innovative and agile workforce, leaders need to be better equipped to identify the necessary soft skills needed so they know where the investment in training should be made,” said Foote.
Foote added that every employee in the organisation need to increase their soft skills to keep the business competitive.
“All employees at every level, will need to learn complex problem solving, people management, collaboration and resilience to navigate the constantly changing business world.”