The Cluster Model Explained

The Cluster Model Explained

FYA’s research identifies seven job clusters in Australia. But what exactly is a job cluster? How is it related to skills? And, most importantly, how does it help young people get a job? Tate gives us an explainer on FYA’s cluster model.

When you’re young, you’re constantly asked what you want to be when you grow up. No matter how fanciful our dream jobs once were—I, for one, am still devastated I’m not playing half-forward flank for the Sydney Swans—this seemingly innocuous childhood conversation-starter is the beginning of a lifetime of career advice that reinforces the idea that we must aspire towards a single profession.

However, the days of having a job or two in a single career are in the past. The world is now a lot more fluid, and so is the way we work.

As a way to make sense of this new work order where most young people will work in jobs that don’t yet exist, FYA research analysed 2.7 million job advertisements and found that there were groupings of jobs that require similar skill sets. These groupings became their job clusters, and here’s what they look like.

  • The Generators
    Comprised of jobs that require a high-level of personal interaction such as retail salesperson, hotel managers and entertainers. The skills that define this cluster include communication, customer service and business development.
  • The Artisans
    Comprised of jobs that require the ability to do manual tasks such as construction, maintenance and farming. The skills that define this cluster include planning, problem solving and tool operation.
  • The Carers
    Comprised of jobs that seek to improve mental or physical well-being of others such as nursing, social workers and fitness instructors. The skills that define this cluster include team work, teaching and case management.
  • The Coordinators
    Comprised of jobs that involve repetitive administrative and process tasks such as bookkeepers, receptionists and bar attendant. The skills that define this cluster include time-management, detail-orientation and invoicing.
  • The Designers
    Comprised of jobs that involve deploying skills and knowledge of science, mathematics and design such as architect, civil engineer and metallurgist. The skills that define this cluster include planning, digital literacy and project management.
  • The Informers
    Comprised of jobs that involve professionals providing information, education or business services such as school teachers, policy analysts and event organiser. The skills that define this cluster include research, data analysis and policy development.
  • The Technologists
    Comprised of jobs that require skilled understanding of digital technology such as software engineers, web administrator and ICT business analysts. The skills that define this cluster include quality assurance, detail orientation and coding.

Ok, I can hear the questions in your head from here! So jobs can be grouped in clusters based on the skills employers are looking for, but how does that help young people navigate a future of work impacted by growing automation, globalisation and demand for flexibility?

There are a couple of practical reasons for creating the clusters model. Firstly, to encourage a shift in how we view work and careers. We should be moving away from a perspective that characterises work as a linear path from formal education to a single career. Why? Because it no longer reflects the reality. Young people are projected to have 17 jobs over five careers throughout their work life!

Secondly, it also helps us to navigate employment for the future. If we shift our mindset towards gaining a portfolio of skills from education and experience, it can open up professional opportunities within a job cluster. For example, the cluster model says that if you’re skilled for a job in a particular cluster, you’ll also have the skills for 13 other jobs on average. Add to that fact some basic (but relevant) training, and the number of jobs you’re skilled for increases.

FYA’s job cluster model helps young people think about, and prepare for, their future of work. So, instead of asking young people what they want to be when they’re older, ask them what they like to do. Do you like working with lots of new people? Do you like working with numbers and data, or do you like working with your hands?

These are much more constructive questions that are both more relevant and practical for the future of work. Also, you’ll avoid passing on the disappointment that I feel for never being good enough to get on the Sydney Swans list. Sometimes, we just have to accept that there really is just one Tony Lockett. For everyone else, the future of work awaits!