Workforce skills – Hard skills, soft skills … and hybrid skills

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Workforce skills – Hard skills, soft skills … and hybrid skills

BY Skillset Marketing 30 Jun, 2021

Workforce skills – Hard skills, soft skills … and hybrid skills

In today’s job market, employers are looking for candidates with a combination of ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills and increasingly, ‘hybrid’ skills. But what is the difference between these skill sets and why are they so important?

Hard skills

Hard skills are measurable and require a set of knowledge to undertake them. They are generally job-specific and are often acquired through training or education.

Hard skills are what typically define a job in an organisation and are skills that employers recruit for. Kym Hilliard, CareerLink’s Senior Recruitment Business Partner explains the top three hard skills she is recruiting for in the Central West in 2021 include:

  1. Trade skills, particularly those required for Electricians, Carpenters, Welders, Fitter Machinists and Sheet Metal Workers
  2. Accounting skills, with a priority on taxation accounting
  3. Project management skills.

Soft skills

These are skills that help you perform your role at work and be successful in the workplace. Whilst employers recruit on specific hard skills, it is the soft skills that will most often win you the job and in time, get you promoted.

“Soft skills are also called employability skills,” says Kym, “They are skills that complement the job-specific or hard skills a person can bring to a role. They are also important skills for career transition as you can take them with you and use them in any job regardless of the sector it is in.”

Kym believes the top five soft skills that employers are looking for in 2021 are:

  • Creative thinking – this involves having the ability to think about a problem or process in a new or novel way
  • Active listening – this skill is about completely focusing on the message that is being communicated and taking in other aspects of communication, such as body language and cues that are used to convey the message
  • Time management – this is about being organised and punctual, and extending to ensuring that you manage and respect your co-workers’ time
  • Cooperation – this skill is about collaborating with other people in the workplace and showing you can work with anyone by adapting and customising your working style
  • Patience – this includes demonstrating the ability to work through a problem and develop thoughtful and meaningful solutions, as well as being calm when confronted by challenges.

When writing your resume or CV, it is important to highlight the soft skills you have. When making decisions about candidates who have the same types of hard skills, employers may look at the soft skills candidates can offer and choose the candidate with the soft skills the employer requires.

Hybrid skills

With changes in technology and growing digitalization in the workplace, there has also been a surge in jobs requiring hybrid skills – these are jobs which require two or more different sets of technical skills.

A 2019 study by US analytics software company, Burning Glass indicates a rising trend in recruitment for hybrid jobs in five key areas:

  • Big data and analytics
  • The intersection of design and development
  • Sales and customer service
  • Emerging digital technologies
  • Evolving compliance and regulatory landscape.

Remarkably, Burning Glass estimates that hybrid jobs will grow by approximately 21% over the next ten years.

Employers see tremendous value in hiring workers with multiple skill sets and as a result, it is worth including the breadth of skills that you can offer an employer on your CV or resume. Interestingly, it is usually workers with some career experience that can offer a varied skill set to employers rather than graduates or people seeking entry levels jobs.

Expanding your skill set

The rise in hybrid jobs in the workplace underscores another trend that is happening in recruitment.

“Increasingly we are seeing situations where job roles are required to be flexible,” explains Kym. “You just can’t stick to the job description. As a job seeker, you need to be available and open to the changing demands of a role and the needs of the business.”

For employees this means being adaptable in the workplace and committed to expanding your skill set, even through additional education and training.

One set of training at the beginning of your career is no longer going to set you up for your entire career. Fortunately, one of the positives of the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia is the range of training and education being offered so that current employees and those looking for work can upskill and develop new proficiencies. To learn more about training and courses on offer, visit the websites of TAFE NSW, universities and training businesses across Australia.

Regardless of the type of role you are doing, it is important to keep ahead of your job requirements and upskill regularly to ensure you retain your employability.


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Australia Skillset would like to acknowledge and pay respect to the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work.
We are honoured to be on the ancestral lands of those whose cultures are among the oldest living cultures in human history. We pay respect to the Elders, past, present and to the younger generation of the community who will be the future leaders in years to come.