Skills in demand by Australia's leading graduate employers
Australia's leading graduate employers are looking for three top skills in university grads. Read exactly what they’re looking for.
Employers hiring IT and engineering graduates look for more than just technical knowledge. Graduates with communication skills and personal attributes such as creativity and flexibility will have a clear advantage in the jobs market, employers say.
"Once we get that tech base, if we can add a great layer of communication, outcome focus, teamwork, and creative problem-solving, that's fantastic,” says Brenda Spencer, a talent acquisition specialist for IBM in Australia and New Zealand.
What is clear is that people with an engineering mindset and coding skills will continue to be in demand. As the role of technology in our lives and workplaces continues to grow and with the ever-increasing amount and complexity of data being processed, the ability to constantly learn, identify patterns, conceptualise systems, solve problems and make sense of it all will be highly valued.
Richard White, CEO, WiseTech Global
Employers’ expectations vary when it comes to the technical skills they expect in graduates. At the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), CIO Gayan Benedict says successful applicants would likely have “hands-on skills in emerging technologies such as machine learning and data engineering. Perhaps more importantly, team members need to demonstrate their capability to learn new technologies and techniques and apply them to real-world challenges.”
At IBM, says Spencer, “We hire very much for potential. We all know the technology world is changing so rapidly that if we were to hire on a pure skills need, those skills could be redundant 12 months down the line. We’re looking for transferable skills, graduates who are interested in continual learning and have a growth mindset.”
Graduates with knowledge of particular programming languages, such as Python, C Plus or Java, can quickly learn new languages as they emerge, she says. One area where graduates lack skills, she says, is “strength in Microsoft Suite, particularly Excel - or an equivalent.”
Richard White, CEO of WiseTech Global, a global developer of cloud-based software solutions for logistics, relies on the soft skills of staff to drive innovation and productivity. “Soft skills include things like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, as well as emotional judgement and intellectual curiosity,” says White.
Other personal attributes include being a team player, as well as having emotional intelligence, tenacity, creativity and self-management. “These business-critical skills evolve throughout a person’s career,” he says.
Robert Mclean, who leads emerging talent acquisition for the RBA, adds that being outcome-focused is also vital. “You need to have the ability to actually deliver on a project; understand the component parts, use a strategic lens on a problem, and then get down to the nitty gritty and use your analytical thinking to break it down,” he says. “Then helicopter between perspectives while anticipating and responding to any issues.”
It doesn't really matter what your job is and whether you're deeply technical, whether you're introverted or extroverted. We need people who can boil information down to a more palatable level for others who may not be as technical as they are, so that it can be consumed across our business.
Brenda Spencer, IBM
Employers say that many university graduates are job-ready. “This generation is very involved inside university and outside,” says Spencer. “They volunteer; they may have a part-time job. We're seeing more and more of that work-integrated learning coming through. It's absolute gold. What’s important is that they know what work looks like and understand how to behave in a professional environment.”
Universities are playing a significant part in ensuring graduates are work-ready, Mclean from the RBA adds. “Universities are working in ever closer partnerships with industry, and that's a good trend. They're engaging with industry leaders and reputable employers to better understand from us what we're looking for.”
WiseTech Global’s CEO also reminds graduates not to understate soft skills on their resume or at interview. “Our recruitment process is designed to identify those who have the highest likelihood of being a high performer in our unique work environment,” he says.
“By combining conventional interview with innovative behavioural and cognitive assessments we can spot soft skills such as grit, confidence and emotional intelligence, which enable technical and career advancement when combined with the internal development and training we offer.”