How Job Clusters Can Change the Way You Search for Jobs

The world around you is changing and so is the way you will choose your career path. While once we chose a career for life, it’s now predicted that you may well have more than 5 career changes in your working life. Don’t think, however, that that means you’ll need to start from scratch every time. More than likely, the jobs you have will fall within “job clusters” meaning that the skills you have from one job will be transferable to the next.

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) has identified seven job clusters by considering the key skills identified by employers in more than 2.7 million job ads between 2015 and 2017.

What are job clusters?

Job clusters are a collection of jobs across various industries that possess similar key skills. A key component of job clusters is amount of highly portable skills between jobs in that cluster. Comparing the essential skills of one role against another determines their portability. Key skills that have a greater than 15% difference between the rates in which they appear have low portability.

For instance, a civil engineer and an architect have many similar core skills but are not considered portable because interior design skills are required so much more by architects than civil engineers.

Example of key skills for civil engineers and architects showing the skill gap between interior design indicating low portability.

Knowing how portable your job is and what jobs share a similar skill intensity allow job seekers to know what their options are to most easily transition from one job to another. It can open up new avenues to employment and change the future of a career.

Soft skills – also known as interpersonal skills – are also highly portable and can help workers move between many different roles.

What are the Job Clusters?

The New Work Mindset report identified seven job clusters based on the skills demanded on online job ads.

7 FYA job clusters including The Generators, The Artisans, The Carer, The Coordinators, The Designers, The Informers, The Technologists

Why are they important for job seekers?

Job clusters have the potential to completely flip the way job seekers think about their job search. Instead of looking for similar jobs to ones you’ve had before, you can look for jobs that utilise the same skills. What a lot of people don’t realise is that each job provides experience for many different types of work. For every job you work in you are developing the skills that can be used in 13 other jobs.

Even more impressively, with the addition of just one more skill that number jumps to 44. That’s 44 separate jobs that you possess key, highly portable skills for. Because of this, job seekers can now consider a career within a particular job cluster rather than choosing one of the more than 1,000 jobs on offer in Australia.

This gives job seekers the ability to have a much more flexible career that can more quickly respond to changes within the economy or to future events such as increased automation. Under the job cluster system, job seekers can look for the cluster that best represents their interests and skill sets. Before making any major decisions, you can then look for entry level positions within the cluster to see if they enjoy it before embarking on the long term education and training required to secure a higher level position. 

Young people should look for early experience within these jobs. This is because they all have an higher rate of Australian youth working within them compared to the national average and offer great experience for a long-term career.

Job clusters can change job search patterns with job seekers having the ability to apply for jobs they may have previously overlooked or not applied for thinking that they lacked the appropriate skills or knowledge.

How does a job cluster help me with my career?

Picking a job cluster that best reflects your strengths and interests will help you to choose a more engaging career. Each cluster has a set of core skills that are essential to the jobs within the group.

Jobs are changing all the time. In the future, you may apply for a job that doesn’t even exist today. Within the next 10-15 years automation will affect up to 40% of jobs and many may disappear because of that. While we can’t know the future, we can plan for it. By identifying portable skills and jobs within clusters, young Australians will be able to make plans for the future.

Job clusters can help shape your career from the very beginning by changing your job search. They can help the middle of your career by offering opportunities to move sideways and upwards to new positions. Finally, they can extend your career by keeping you in a cluster that you enjoy and can engage with. Clusters can also help future proof your career by developing those skills you know will be needed in the future. Protect your career against change by working in a cluster that you can move dynamically in.

Job clusters allow job seekers to see the full potential of their careers and offers them an unparalleled way to view the skills they need. By thinking about job clusters, you can search for jobs that use the skills you have already learnt. 

Who is the FYA?

The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) is committed to young Australians and their contribution they can make to Australia. It is a national for-purpose organisation that wants to support young people and believes in their future.

Their first report, the New Work Order (2015) addressed how automation and collaboration were changing the face of the workforce.

In 2017, the New Work Mindset shows how transferable skills are becoming more important than experience in one specific job. The New Work Mindset can be read on the FYA website.

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