Australians are looking to bolster their soft skills in droves while remote working jobs are increasing in unprecedented numbers, according to new LinkedIn research.

The third annual publication of the most popular courses on LinkedIn Learning revealed people are looking to improve their soft skills to set them apart in the hugely competitive jobs market in the wake of COVID-19.

Out of the 10 most popular courses on the platform, six were centred on soft skills, including strategic thinking, developing your emotional intelligence and learning personal branding.

LinkedIn Asia-Pacific senior director of learning solutions Jason Laufer said these sorts of skills are crucial in the new jobs market.

“Since entering the era of COVID-19, the way we learn, work and do business has transformed,” Laufer said “This is indicative of what the jobs landscape will look like in the future where remote work is the new normal; the digital space takes precedence; and professionals with a diverse skills set are valued by organisations.

“In order to prepare for this, professionals need to strive for skills diversity. They must pick up the necessary digital and soft skills that will enable them to work, collaborate and manage teams in a digital space.”

Bettering yourself

Additional research from LinkedIn Learning in April revealed Australians were focused on learning how to work from home and the accompanying technologies towards the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The top courses in April were relating to how to most effectively and efficiently work from home and on technologies such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom.

It now seems that Australians have become more comfortable working from home and are now looking to improve and diversify their skill sets to better compete in an increasingly competitive jobs market.

The most popular course on LinkedIn Learning in 2020 has been strategic thinking, followed by learning Python, Excel 2016 essential training, Excel essential training and remote work foundation.

The strategic thinking course looks at thinking on a “big and small scale, long and short term and into the past and present”.

“While strategic thinking is a valuable skill for everyone in an organisation, it becomes increasingly essential as you ascend the ladder,” the course description reads.

“In fact, you may have a difficult time being promoted or succeeding as a leader without it. Yet, no one formally teaches strategic thinking, so it’s critical to take the initiative and learn how to do it yourself.”

The emotional intelligence course looks at helping users build effective relationships at work, helping you to “align your intentions and your impact so that you can build strong and collaborative relationships”.

Other courses in the top 10 included developing emotional intelligence, time management when working from home and how to pitch yourself.

All of these top 10 courses are now available for free on LinkedIn Learning until 30 September.

Time well spent

There was a 153 percent increase in the total hours spent on LinkedIn Learning by Australians from July 2019 to June 2020, compared to the previous year.

In total, LinkedIn members spent over 113,000 hours on the platform in July alone, compared to over 39,000 hours in July last year.

The number of Australians studying online courses focusing on soft skills has doubled in the last year, at a higher rate than hard skills.

“Needless to say, we’re learning how to be more productive remotely, create work-life balance and communicate with virtual teams,” Laufer said.

Out of all the countries included in the research, Australia saw the largest increase in remote working jobs listed on LinkedIn, increasing by 3.4 times from March to May 2020. Remote job applications have also increased by 4.26 times during the pandemic.

The top remote roles listed in Australia include technical support engineer, solutions architect, customer success manager and administrative assistant.