Business

New research reveals the most lucrative and in-demand digital skills

  • Written by Katherine Mills

Robert Half report – The Demand for Skilled Talent

 


As digital transformation reshapes the labour market and Australian businesses face a deepening skills shortage, new independent research from Robert Half reveals the impact demand for digital skills is having on job prospects and earning potential for employees across finance and accounting, technology, business support and marketing.

 

The research coincides with the launch of Robert Half’s Demand for Skilled Talent report, produced alongside labour market analytics firm, Burning Glass Technologies, to provide an in-depth analysis of current employment market trends, in-demand roles and the rise of the ‘Anywhere Workforce’.

 

The digital skills rewriting Australian job descriptions

The biggest staffing concern facing employers is having a lack of skilled candidates available for open roles. Robert Half research found that more than eight in 10 (82%) employers believe it will be more challenging to find qualified employees compared to pre-pandemic conditions.

 

The quickening rate of digital transformation across many departments combined with the expansion of remote and hybrid work practices means that the development, use, and maintenance of hardware, software and cloud-based platforms (as examples) are increasingly no longer solely the preserve of dedicated IT departments. Based on an analysis of all online job postings in Australia during the period of March 2020 – March 2021, compared to the same period five years ago, the digital skills with the greatest increase in demand are: DevOps (+344%), Atlassian JIRA (+101%), Software as a Service (+88%), Python (+61%) and Salesforce (+40%).

 

Demand for digital skill capabilities vary by sector and company, with employers increasingly requiring jobseekers to demonstrate expanded and more diverse skills from both traditionally ‘technical’ and ‘people-focused’ roles. Examples include:

  • For technology specialists: DevOps (+283%), Software as a Service (SaaS) skills (+96%) and JIRA (+74%) have seen a substantial uptick in demand.
  • For finance and accounting roles:  Python (+33%) and Scrum (+3%) have had the biggest growth in demand.
  • For business support roles: Software as a Service skills (+45%) and Salesforce capabilities (+18%) have seen the greatest growth in demand amongst employers.
  • For marketing and communication roles: Email marketing (Mailchimp) (+148%), Software as a Service (SaaS) skills (+100%), and social media management (+27%) have experienced the most growth in demand in the past five years.

Complementing the demand for technical skills, Robert Half research reveals the most important aptitudes that employers are looking for in employees in 2021 are critical-thinking skills (29%), data skills (28%), adaptability (26%) and strategic thinking (26%).

 

The digital skills employers deem the most valuable

The shift in skills demand in response to the adoption of new technologies has outpaced the availability or development of these skills in the domestic talent pool. This imbalance is evidenced in the remuneration attributed to job descriptions that include in-demand skills compared to those without. Robert Half research breaks down the significant salary variances emerging in job postings over the past three years:

  • For technology specialists: Systems analysts with SAP skills are commanding up to 12% more in base salary than systems analysts without SAP skills; IT project managers with Scrum skills can command 13% more than those without.
     
  • For finance and accounting roles: Payroll specialists with SAP experience are commanding up to 4% more in base salary than payroll specialists without; finance managers with ERP knowledge can command 8% more than those without.
     
  • For business support roles: Project managers with Prince skills are commanding up to 29% more in base salary than project managers without; marketing specialists with SQL skills can command 19% more than those without.

 

David Jones, Senior Managing Director of Robert Half Asia Pacific, said:

"As we move into what we hope will be the latter stage of the pandemic cycle, there is a return to a more confident and secure labour market for employees and employers alike. Businesses have been forced to expedite digitisation initiatives and have found a wealth of new growth opportunities through that evolution.”

 

“The skills employers need are not only evolving rapidly but also directly translating into new-look job descriptions and evolving skillsets. Just a few years ago, marketing managers weren’t assessed on their ability to configure software, nor were software developers judged by their skills in building rapport with stakeholders. However, as the Demand for Skilled Talent report reveals, advancing technology is creating both new opportunities for workers and new challenges for employers trying to fill roles.”

 

“As businesses continue towards recovery and growth without the flow of foreign talent to complement their domestic skilled workforce, there must be a renewed focus on reskilling and upskilling existing employees. As well as assessing technical skills, businesses should be seeking candidates who demonstrate a digital mindset and agile approach to learning as these characteristics will be essential to filling emerging skills gaps within a business."

 

Matt Sigelman, CEO of Burning Glass Technologies, adds: “The pace of skill change globally continues to accelerate. Tech, digital and data handling skills continue to be in ever-increasing demand across all sectors. The development and use of hardware, software, e-commerce apps and cloud-based collaboration platforms, as examples, are no longer solely the preserve of dedicated IT departments as virtually all areas of business are becoming highly dependent on the use of technology in their day-to-day operations. From a business perspective, all managers need to foster a culture of constant learning for workers to remain agile, adaptable and sufficiently skilled in order to keep up with the rapid pace of innovation.”  

 

About the research 

The annual study is developed by Robert Half and was conducted online in November 2020 by an independent research company, surveying 300 hiring managers, including 100 CFOs and 100 CIOs, from companies across Australia. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management, and trends in the workplace. 

 

Burning Glass undertook an analysis of the technology/software-specific skills included in all national online job descriptions across Australia during the last 12 months – spanning the period from April '20 to March '21 - looking at the change in demand for skills compared to the same period five years earlier (April '15 to March '16).  Salary premiums associated with technology/software-specific skills were analysed from the last 36 months, spanning the period from March '18 to March '21. This analysis was undertaken by Burning Glass in May 2021.

 

About Burning Glass

Burning Glass Technologies delivers job market analytics that empower employers, workers, and educators to make data-driven decisions. The company’s artificial intelligence technology analyses hundreds of millions of job postings and real-life career transitions to provide insight into labour market patterns. This real-time strategic intelligence offers crucial insights, such as which jobs are most in demand, the specific skills employers need, and the career directions that offer the highest potential for workers. For more information, visit burning-glass.com

 

About Robert Half  

Robert Half is the global, specialised talent solutions provider that helps employers find their next great hire and jobseekers uncover their next opportunity. Robert Half offers both contract and permanent placement services, and is the parent company of Protiviti, a global consulting firm.  Robert Half Australia has offices in Brisbane, Melbourne, Mount Waverley, Perth and Sydney. More information on roberthalf.com.au.   

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