Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

Priority skills


This section provides a summary of key skills identified by Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) in their 2019 Skills Forecasts. 

IRCs have pinpointed a variety of skills as priorities for their industry. Drawing on the skills framework set out in the report Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training, these have been grouped within eleven high-level skill areas for the purposes of this analysis. 

For more information on the factors driving demand for skills, please visit the Factors and trends page. For information on the cross-sector projects and training package development work underway, please visit the Key initiatives page.  

Each page below contains a summary of the skill need, industry demand for that skill, and case studies of industry clusters and sectors with a specific need for these skills:


The priority skills framework has largely been based on, and adapted from, the skills outlined in the skills chapter of the Miles Morgan report Future skills and training: A practical resource to help identify future skills and training. The report outlines a series of skills that workers will need to be effective in Australia’s future workplace.

Additional skills areas have been included where IRC Skills Forecasts have consistently identified certain skills needs, which aren’t a focus in the Future skills and training report.

In total, eleven priority skills areas have been identified:

  • Adaptability and learning skills (i.e. innovation, flexibility, and multiskilling)
  • Analytical skills (data analysis, critical and creative thinking, and problem solving)
  • Business and compliance skills (small business skills, and regulatory compliance)
  • Collaboration skills (interpersonal skills, communication, and teamwork)
  • Customer service and marketing skills (social media, marketing and customer service)
  • Digital skills (new technologies, robotics and automation, big data, and cybersecurity)
  • Foundation skills (language, literacy and numeracy, including digital literacy)
  • Industry and occupation specific skills (technical skills)
  • Leadership and management skills (leadership of self and others)
  • STEM skills (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics)
  • Sustainability and natural resource management skills (green skills).


Allocation of skills

Each priority skill area aligns closely with one of the generic skills ranked by IRCs in their Skills Forecasts, and reflects a range of relevant ‘free-text’ examples of more specific skills, requested by IRCs throughout their forecasts. For example, the generic skill ‘Communication / virtual collaboration / social intelligence’; and IRC demand for ‘active listening’, ‘communication skills’, ‘collaboration skills’ and ‘social perceptiveness’ in the Skills Forecasts are captured within the ‘Collaboration skills’ area. Best judgement was used to allocate ‘free-text’ responses to the most appropriate skill area from the list above.

The priority skill area ‘Industry and occupation specific skills’ has been created to capture all the specific and technical skills IRCs have identified which are relevant to their industry or occupation.


Skills ranking

A systematic review of the skills forecasts from 2019 has been undertaken to identify which priority skills areas are ranked most highly by IRCs.

Generic skills have been consistently ranked by all IRCs in the Skills Forecasts. These have been used to determine the average ranking of priority skill areas across all Skills Forecasts.

In addition, other skills identified as a workforce priority in the Skills Forecasts have been counted and converted into a low/medium/high ‘gauge level’. Gauge level classifications are based on the proportion of all skills forecasts which identify and prioritise skills within a specific skill area. For example, a skills forecast may refer multiple times to different ‘digital skills’ in their skills outlook (for example coding skills, digital literacy and automation), but this is only counted once, against the ‘Digital skills’ area. The priority skills area appearing in the most IRC skills forecasts was allocated the highest level on the gauge scale, while the skills area prioritised the least in IRC skills forecasts ranked the lowest.

The case studies that are presented in each Priority skills page are intended to provide more information about IRC or industry demand for a specific skill (and more detail about why that skill is a priority for that particular industry).

Updated: 06 Oct 2020
To Top