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Current career trends – soft skills vs hard skills

If you’re tuned into the career market, you’ll know that in-demand jobs are constantly changing. From actuarial science to digital project management, new fields pop out of the woodwork every year – you’ve probably read the statistics that indicate up to 85 per cent of jobs that will be held in 2030 don’t even exist yet. But, what does this mean for your child as they enter university and, eventually, the big wide career world?  

We’re answering some of the most common questions about what’s trending in careers, how to help them cope with our evolving career landscape, and the difference between hard and soft skills.  

Q: What are ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ skills, and which is better?  

A: Future-proofing a career comes down to refining a blend of hard and soft skills, with the former being the theoretical, technical things you learn in school or university (e.g. mathematics, physics, music, history etc.) and the latter being the attributes that make up a good worker. These soft skills include, but are certainly not limited to, things like communication, problem solving, digital literacy, adaptiveness and time management.  

Neither is more important, however hiring managers are beginning to prioritise a need for soft skills as they are more difficult to teach. For instance, a candidate may have a good grasp on coding required for a new role, but not the full gamut of expertise. If they are dedicated, take initiative, know how to process constructive criticism and are a quick learner, it’s a no-brainer to give them a shot and spend some time teaching them the hard skills, as their soft skills make up for it in spades.  

Q: Which careers are in-demand right now, and what will my child need to pursue them?  

A: As you might imagine, the scope of careers that are in demand is pretty wide – our world is changing so rapidly that new jobs emerge in practically every field each year. However, some stand out more than others.  

  • Artificial intelligence: AI is booming, so any career that is directly related is sure to be on an upward trajectory. Those with STEM skills and a keen interest in the digital landscape will be well-suited to a career in AI.  
  • Actuarial science: If you haven’t heard of actuarial science before, it’s time it made it onto your radar! This career deals in quantitative assessment of business, with a key element being financial risk management. Perfect for those who love maths and are level-headed, communicative and analytical, actuarial science is up there with the most in-demand (and satisfactory) careers.  
  • Care-based careers: There will always be people to take care of, which is why it’s no surprise that traditional care-based jobs such as medicine, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and nursing are projected to remain popular. However, amongst these there are other, more unique careers emerging, such as those that blend big data, law or financial planning with healthcare.  
  • Climate sector careers: As we grapple to reverse the effects of the climate crisis before it’s too late, the demand for those specialising in various elements of this sector continues to rise. From climate lawyers to climate scientists, you’ll find that many disciplines can be translated to addressing the climate crisis. Passionate, determined environmentalists with a variety of skill sets will thrive in this industry.  

Q: How can I prepare my child for an unpredictable job market?  

A: As a parent, it’s natural to want to do everything you can to prepare your child for life on their own. However, the reality is that there’s no right way. Every child has a different set of skills, attitudes and approaches to life and learning that will carry them through their future career. What you can do, though, is help them identify and cultivate these skills to give them a better chance at discovering what they love and pursuing it successfully.  

Encourage your child to dive deeper into the things that they’re good at, as well as the things they’re interested in, to foster skills they actually enjoy using.  

 Although careers are changing every year, one thing stays the same – finding a way to utilise your passions is priceless. 

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