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Business Calls for Major Shakeup in Education

Australian businesses are throwing down a challenge to the education sector, saying the education system more often than not fails to prepare employees, and prospective employees, for careers in their workplaces.

A new report, The Future of Talent, released today [16 Nov] by Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CA ANZ) reveals businesses are turning to on-the-job training, mentoring and on-line courses to fill the gap.

The businesses took part in a survey of nearly 800 Australian business leaders asking questions about desirable skills, career path changes, skill shortages, how to attract and retain staff and the role of education.

Asked: Does the current education system do a good job of preparing people for careers in their organisation, only 42 percent said yes.

“This demonstrates a lack of confidence by organisations in the education sector’s ability to equip the future workforce with the skills they will need,” said Geraldine Magarey, Leader of Policy and Thought Leadership at CA ANZ.

“Only two in five employers believe the education system is doing a good job of preparing people for organisations like their own.”

The report says these shortcomings have been acknowledged by the education sector. It says “leading universities in New Zealand and Australia are introducing new courses, curriculum's and entry criteria with a view to better preparing students for the workforce of the future”.

Magarey said schools also need to broaden their measures of success and drop the inclination to “teach to the test”.

“What’s needed is broader learning, including encouraging skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration and ethical understandings.

“These are the skills businesses are indicating they want.”

The Future of Talent paper also asked business leaders to identify the attributes they see as very important for the future.

Communication skills ranked first with 90 per cent of the vote; problem solving ranked second, while adaptability and agility ranked third.

Magarey said the results showed that despite advancements in technology, business leaders see human skills as being more important than ever.

“Communication skills, collaboration and problem-solving are essential human skills, which are extremely difficult to replicate with technology.”

“It’s clear that business leaders believe a human touch is crucial as we increasingly see technological advancements influence the workplace.

“These attributes which rely on well-developed emotional intelligence are needed to make sense of global megatrends and navigate through rapidly changing times.”

The paper surveyed leaders from all sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, construction, hospitality, logistics, IT, professional services, accounting, finance and healthcare.

The top ten skills ranked by businesses leaders as very important for the future:

  • Communication Skills

  • Problem Solving

  • Adaptability and Agility

  • Collaboration

  • Build Relationships Quickly

  • Resilience

  • Creativity and Innovation

  • Make Good Decisions with Incomplete Information

  • Leadership

  • Displaying Empathy

“At the heart of every future workplace is the need to be agile and adaptable. That’s not only crucial for workers – but it’s crucial for workplaces too,” Magarey said.

“Businesses need to be flexible in relation to hours, locations where employees can work and leave entitlements too. These initiatives help to increase the talent pool and the employees they can attract.

“As our paper outlines, most businesses have the skills they need for the operations now. But from their responses, it’s clear they are not confident about the future.”

A copy of the report will be available at


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