Equipping learners with skills to future-proof their careers

Smart skills are the key to future-proofing your career

The way we interact with and relate to others is not only at the core of what makes us human – it’s also something that can differentiate a good job candidate from a great job candidate.

Every job demands a unique combination of skills. And while it’s crucial to master the technical, practical and intellectual skills relevant to any chosen profession, employers are becoming increasingly interested in skills that relate to how we work.

The World Economic Forum uses the term ‘human skills’ to refer to the “high-value activities that play to the distinctive strengths of being human”. And it’s true: these skills are high-value. The way we interact with and relate to, others is not only at the core of what makes us human – it’s also something that can differentiate a good job candidate from a great job candidate. A 2019 Deloitte report on the wage premium associated with ‘human skills’ even predicts that by 2030, two-thirds of jobs in Australia will be ‘human skill’ intensive.

At Torrens University, we refer to these as ‘smart skills’.  And while they might initially seem trickier to define or measure, we believe these skills are just as learnable and just as critical as other technical or industry-specific skills. That’s why we’re proud to present the Smart Skills Digital Badges, a dedicated series of short courses geared at improving the key skills we know employers are increasingly looking out for in job candidates: leadership, interpersonal skills, creative and critical thinking, the ability to drive change, and digital innovation. This is where the ‘smart’ comes into our Smart Skills Digital Badges: by combining traditional soft skills with key technological drivers of change learners are equipped with a unique toolbox to tackle complex real-world problems when they enter the workforce.

Essentially, a Digital Badge is evidence of learning which can be displayed, shared and verified digitally. At Torrens University, learners undertake the on-demand, Smart Skill short courses – which comprise an integrated mix of academic and industry-led content – and in doing so earn a Digital Badge that formally recognises that skill set. Those badges can then be displayed on a CV, email signature or LinkedIn profile as a way to demonstrate these skills to potential employers. The on-demand Smart Skill short courses meet an unaddressed need, allowing learners to develop these Smart Skills anywhere and anytime. The on-demand platform facilitates bite-sized learning that's underpinned by engaging video content, industry star interviews and scenario-based learning activities.

Informed by research undertaken by the World Economic Forum, Forbes, IBM, PwC, Deloitte and others, our Smart Skills Digital Badges support Torrens University’s broader vision of producing job-ready graduates with the tools to form lasting connections in their relevant industries. With each Digital Badge endorsed by – and including content from – industry heavyweights such as Kathmandu, B-Lab, Canva and Ovolo Hotel Group, learners can feel secure in the knowledge that the skills they absorb have been tried, tested and are trusted by some of the biggest names in the economy.

Building better leaders

Deloitte reports that leadership is one of the top four skills shortages in the Australian economy. But what do we really mean by leadership?

Our Leadership Essentials  badge is a six to twelve-hour course aimed at improving some of the skills required to be an effective leader. Backed by global outdoor retailer Kathmandu, the course features its CEO, Reuben Casey, who brings with him over 20 years of professional leadership experience. In this badge, learners engage with topics covering brand development, coaching and personal reflection, challenging learners to look inwards in order to inspire growth in others. They’ll also learn to demonstrate confidence in problem-solving and decision-making; how to use emotional intelligence to build stronger relationships; and how to take action in times of crisis.

Change is another constant in the workplace, and adaptability for leaders is a must-have skill. Championing Organisational Change & Driving Impact, our most popular badge, shifts learners’ thinking towards organisational culture and how to be an effective leader in the face of change. Endorsed and featuring video content by B Corp – the globally recognised certification for social and environmental performance in business – this course helps learners develop their understanding of corporate social responsibility, organisational culture and the power of businesses to create positive change in the world. The badge equips learners with the tools needed to plan and facilitate lasting change in their personal and professional lives. (And with Torrens University a certified B Corp itself, you know you’re in the hands of experts.)

A focus on the interpersonal

If two candidates with identical technical abilities were in contention for the same position, would the employer be more likely to choose the candidate with better communication skills; good emotional judgement; and an equal capacity for teamwork and self-management? The answer is self-explanatory.

“Interpersonal skills are skills that are necessary in both your personal and professional life,” says Nicole Downs, Group Director of People and Performance at Ovolo Hotels. Downs is one of the key industry leaders featured in the Interpersonal & Workplace Essentials Digital Badge, which is endorsed by Ovolo Hotels.

“[At Ovolo Hotels] we truly believe that when we hire our people, they need to be themselves and be genuine.”

In the Interpersonal & Workplace Essentials badge, there’s an explicit focus on building learners’ abilities to work effectively and efficiently with a range of people in various settings. Learners are taught advanced communication techniques including active listening, emotional awareness, constructive criticism and negotiation. The final module provides a guide for having difficult conversations in the workplace.

In an age of increasing automation, collaboration, creating effective teams and reflective practice – are only going to become more important in the job markets of the future.

Harnessing innate creativity

Across five recent reports published by Mckinsey & Company, IBM Global, Deloitte, LinkedIn and The World Economic Forum, creativity is the most consistently highlighted skill that industry was looking for. Each report highlighted how creativity and critical thinking skills are integral to the future of work and without them, businesses won't succeed. Creativity has also featured as the number one skill industry are seeking according to LinkedIn for the past two years.

In the context of the workplace, you might describe creativity as the ability to process information and ‘connect the dots’ in new, innovative ways. It’s an invaluable skill for any employee, yet it’s so often taken for granted.

“Creative and critical thinking is really about turning something from chaos to clarity,” says Andrew Green, Head of Design at Canva, the internationally successful global design platform and official endorser of the Creative & Critical Thinking badge. In this badge, Green lends his voice to get learners thinking about how to be more analytical, perceptive and creative when approaching problems at work.

“As a student, having these skills is essential. Being able to look at that problem space and think deeply about that problem with the evidence you’ve got in front of you and putting together a model for how you want to solve that problem, is something that can help you not just in your job but in your everyday life.”

While creativity has been perceived to be inherently personal, it is now known to be a skill which can be learned with practical tools and methods to help harness it in the workplace. This badge delves into ideation, design thinking and critical analysis as ways to bring out our innate creative talents and use them for good.

Digital and real-world smarts

The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report (2018) predicted that four specific technological advances are set to drive business growth in the coming years: ubiquitous high-speed mobile internet; artificial intelligence (AI); widespread adoption of big data analytics; and cloud technology. Regardless of the industry you’re in, a deeper knowledge in these areas is bound to help your success in the workplace.

Our Digital Innovation Essentials badge supports learners’ abilities to apply knowledge of these latest innovations to a variety of business challenges. In this 12-hour course, learners gain a better understanding of data science, AI and cloud security. They’ll also gain understanding of user experience (UX) design and DevOps (a combination of software development and IT operations) and how these can help improve workflow and operations in a range of settings.

Digital literacy is no longer confined to the IT department. To participate in the workplace of the future every employee must understand these new digital advances and how they will impact their business or role. Leaders must understand how they can leverage digital technology to provide a better product or customer experience for their customers.

Why Digital Badges?

Each Smart Skills Digital Badge is hosted on the world-renowned digital credentials network Credly. Once learners have completed the short course requirements for each Digital Badge, they are awarded with a shareable and verifiable ‘badge’ as evidence of their learning.

For earners and learners, the benefits are clear: more secure than a paper-based certificate, the Digital Badges are backed by Blockchain technology and stay with you long after completing the course. For employers, the Digital Badges provide a verifiable source of truth for the skills of job candidates and prospective employees.

For educators, the Smart Skills Digital Badges are designed to complement work-integrated learning and practical industry experience. With these two modes of learning combined, learners are one step closer to being employable and successful in their field. Digital Badges allow learners to pick and choose the areas they wish to develop, and Torrens University will support learners in using this informal learning towards their formal studies if they decide to study a course with Torrens University. Moreover, the Digital Badges provide a way for learners to consider their progress in skills that aren’t typically defined or measured in traditional learning environments.

At Torrens University, we believe it’s through this precise combination that learners can future-proof their burgeoning careers.

Find out more about Torrens University’s Smart Skill Digital Badges here.

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