Top 10 skills in demand in 2024: Want a jump start on the competition?

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Published: 20 February, 2024
Accountants, IT Project Managers and Executive Assistants are among the top 10 skills in most demand in 2024.
“We’re only eight weeks into the new calendar year, but it’s clear that certain skills are sought after more than others,” said Matthew Dickason, CEO Asia Pacific at recruitment and workforce solutions specialists Hays.
“These roles are at the top of employers’ wish lists, with the ongoing skills shortage amplifying existing attraction and retention challenges for organisations,” he said. 
In 2023, the skills market remained incredibly tight, with 88 per cent of employers experiencing a skills shortage.
2024’s demand coincides with a rise in job vacancy activity across Australia, as indicated by the latest ANZ-Indeed Jobs Ads data. It shows a month-on-month increase of 1.7% in January. According to Hays, this reflects the growing need for skilled professionals to fill key roles across the country.

2024’s recruitment market to date

“We’ve seen a very active market so far,” says Matthew. “After the anticipated lull over the Christmas period, we witnessed a swift return to pre-Christmas levels of vacancy activity. 
“This year, some employers contacted us in early January to get the jump on competitors and secure strong talent. The first quarter of a calendar year is traditionally a peak period for job searching, so savvy employers know they can make strategic hires to lay the foundation for a strong year ahead.”

Top ten skills in demand

Following is Hays’s list of the top ten skills in demand for 2024. These are the skills that are in strongest demand relative to supply.
  1. Accountants: Accounting professionals are sought across the board, particularly at the intermediate level. A decline in people undertaking an accounting degree is adding to the skills imbalance. Technical Financial Accountants and Management Accountants with experience are particularly highly valued, as are Assistant Accountants, Finance Managers, Accounts Payable Officers and Payroll Officers. 
  2. IT Project Managers: As organisations continue to embed agility or new technology into their operations, Project Managers are sought to lead programs and guide a project’s output.
  3. Executive Assistants: Office support professionals are in demand across all industries. Executive Assistants are the most highly sought after, with experienced and skilled professionals not remaining in the job market for long. Administrators, Personal Assistants and Receptionists are also valued.
  4. Business Analysts: Given the pace of digital transformation, Business Analysts are sought to translate business requirements into technical solutions, identify areas for improvement and facilitate innovation. Candidates must possess exceptional analytical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  5. Business Development Managers: Many organisations are placing increased emphasis on sales growth. This is fuelling demand for Business Development Managers, Account Managers and Sales Engineers, with experience using Salesforce highly desirable.
  6. Electricians and Diesel Mechanics: Electricians are in high demand, especially A-Grade licensed Electricians. Diesel Mechanics are also sought.
  7. Engineers: From Civil to Structural and Grid, engineering professionals remain in high demand. With both federal and state governments continuing to focus on infrastructure projects, hiring demand is evident across the nation. In addition, the focus on decarbonisation and energy supply transformation projects means Grids Connection and Power System Engineers are also in high demand. 
  8. Software Developers: Despite the rise of AI such as ChatGPT, Software Developers remain in high demand in both tech firms and across most industries. As organisations increase their rate of digital adoption, streamline operations and look to stay competitive in a digital-first world, these professionals are sought to design, build and maintain software solutions.
  9. Procurement Specialists: With contracts up for renewal, candidates with experience in setting up panels leading tender requests and drafting contracts are in high demand. Contract Managers are also needed, thanks to a heightened focus on the use of external suppliers, which has fed demand for professionals experienced in handling more intricate contracts. Candidates must possess skills in assessing supplier performance, negotiation and managing established contracts, with the latter an extremely rare skill at present. 
  10. Communications Specialists: Professionals with corporate communications experience do not remain on the market long. The sheer volume of work available sees demand outstrip supply. 

Want a jump start on the competition?

Advice for job candidates

  • Know what you’re looking for in your next role: “While making quick moves to take advantage of higher rates of pay can be tempting, consider if the move will help you achieve what you really want,” said Matthew. 

    “The more comprehensive your understanding of what you want in your next job and employer, the better you’ll be able to target your job search. This will ensure you only explore the most relevant opportunities, saving both your time and the hiring manager’s time. For instance, ask yourself what salary and benefits package you’re looking for, what role is a sensible next step, what technical and soft or people skills you want to develop, what kind of culture and work environment you thrive in and what your deal-breakers are.”
  • Quantify your achievements: “Think of specific achievements you can share in your CV and interview to evidence your skills,” noted Matthew.

    “For instance, the percentage increase in results you were personally responsible for, the number of staff you’ve managed or your accuracy rate. Such evidence demonstrates the value you could bring to a role and helps tell your career story in a succinct, compelling and undisputable way.”
  • Improve your capabilities: “Work is changing at an increasingly rapid pace, so keep your technical skills sharp by adopting a continuous learning mindset and actively adding new skills to your repertoire,” he said.

    “If you are in the early career stage, focus on building technical skills and expertise. As your career progresses, begin to advance your niche skills. Don’t forget your soft or people skill development, too.

Advice for hiring employers

  • Sell your opportunity: “In a tight talent market, employers must sell their organisation, leadership team and role in an interview,” noted Matthew.

    “Use an interview as your opportunity to show why your organisation stands out.”
  • Personalise your offer: “Regardless of role, every candidate has different priorities,” he said.

    “Use an interview to find out what would motivate and secure that particular individual, beyond rates of pay, and then show alignment with what you can offer.”
  • Flexible working: “Flexible working remains important to many candidates, but it’s important to recognise that it extends beyond just hybrid working arrangements,” said Matthew.

    “It encompasses various forms of flexibility that cater to the diverse needs and preferences of candidates, such as flexible hours, job sharing and part-time work. Offering various forms of flexibility is crucial to attract top talent, increase engagement and support diversity, equity and inclusion.”
- Ends - 
For further information please contact Kathryn Crowden at kathryn.crowden@hays.com.au

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