Skills shortage with enormous career opportunity

Aussies are using their downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic to focus on their career and learn new skills.

Whether the result of unemployment, underemployment or just the inability to pursue their usual hobbies, many people have found themselves with a few extra hours in their week and are putting them to good use.

An exclusive survey of 1025 Australians by Dynata reveals about one in five have used downtime to gain new skills - 11 per cent re-skilled for their current career and seven per cent re-skilled for a new career.

While most of this group (50 per cent) did so through short online courses, about a third enrolled in TAFE or university and one in 10 pursued a trade qualification or ticket.

Human resources provider The Adecco Group chief executive Rafael Moyano said now is a good time for learning.

"With the pandemic driving unemployment to a 19-year high, and Australia entering its first recession in 29 years, upskilling and reskilling are key to staying ahead for many workers," he said.

Adecco Group’s Rafael Moyano says employers are looking for digital skills. Picture: Supplied
Adecco Group’s Rafael Moyano says employers are looking for digital skills. Picture: Supplied

"We know that skill acquisition itself is a key motivator to people when considering their next career move and this is also crucial for those aiming to deliver more value within their existing roles.

"Digital skill shortages are among the biggest problems for many of our clients, especially as every four years people lose 30 per cent of their technical skills due to the environment changing so rapidly."

Younger people in particular are embracing the opportunity to learn.

A survey of 2000 Australians by tech company DocuSign finds 67 per cent of Generation Z respondents (aged 18 to 24) are using this period to gain new skills.

This compares to 57 per cent of Generation Y (25 to 39), 44 per cent of Generation X (40-54) and 37 per cent cent of Baby Boomers (55-64).

Digio business analyst Nina Zivkovic has used her downtime to become an AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner.

Her role had been temporarily reduced to a four-day week during the COVID-19 shutdowns, so she put her spare day to good use.

Zivkovic says she had previously worked on an AWS cloud project and wanted to solidify the knowledge she had gained.

"I had not done formal studies for a while either, not since my chartered accountancy (about 10 years ago), so this was an opportunity to jump back in," she says.

"It has whet the appetite so I am thinking about other things I am interested in and what else I can study."

Meanwhile, Indigenous Australian-owned Goanna Solutions is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch AWS re/Start in Australia - a free, 12-week, virtual program that prepares unemployed and underemployed people for careers in cloud computing, and connects them to potential employers.

The first cohort began in June and more will start during the year.

Danni Patterson was out of work after COVID-19 hit so enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Data Analytics. Picture: Supplied
Danni Patterson was out of work after COVID-19 hit so enrolled in a Graduate Certificate of Data Analytics. Picture: Supplied

FROM UNIVERSITY EMPLOYEE TO UNIVERSITY STUDENT

Danni Patterson, 31, was working as a manager in the international education sector when the pandemic hit and her contract could no longer be renewed.

She was forced to reassess her career options and decided to enrol in a Graduate Certificate of Data Analytics.

"I had always wanted to become better at data visualisation and I was going to do some free online courses at the same time as applying for jobs," she said.

"Once I realised how dire the job market was, I thought, 'This is a great time for some formal study in an area I have always been interested in'."

The Victorian, who has a background in international relations and business, said it has been challenging to "reactivate the maths part" of her brain after so many years but that it's coming back quickly.

"Having technical skills is a really great way to differentiate yourself," she said.

"I am confident in my soft skills at work but people with good technical skills as well as soft skills make it far in companies."

She said now is the perfect time to be upskilling.

"It gives you something to focus on through tough times," she said.

"It gives you that extra bit of purpose."

Nina Zivkovic is a business analyst at Digio and a certified AWS Cloud Practitioner. Picture: Supplied
Nina Zivkovic is a business analyst at Digio and a certified AWS Cloud Practitioner. Picture: Supplied


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