Durable skills are in top demand with employers across the globe—meaning students should start developing these skills as early as possible

Why durable skills are the next big thing


Durable skills are in top demand with employers across the globe—meaning students should start developing these skills as early as possible

Fact: Every job in every sector will require soft skills. These soft skills include what many call durable skills—professional and personal competencies that span a person’s career—and they are requested in job postings much more frequently than hard skills.

A new report from student success nonprofit America Succeeds leverages data from 82 million employer job postings and reveals the critical importance of durable skills training for long-term success in the workforce.

These “soft” skills were requested in more than 50 million job ads–almost two-thirds of those studied. One-third of jobs (29 million) requested at least 3 durable skills, and of the 10 most in-demand skills across all postings, 7 were durable skills. The top 5 durable skills were requested almost 4 times more than the top 5 other skills.

These are some of the unique data points presented in The High Demand for Durable Skills. As defined in the new report, durable skills are the soft skills that comprise important professional capabilities (leadership, critical thinking, communication, etc.) and personal qualities (creativity, mindfulness, fortitude, etc.) that last throughout an entire career.

“The need for inclusive, soft skills-based education and hiring was apparent long before the pandemic but COVID-19 has greatly accelerated existing trends,” said Tim Taylor, co-founder and president of America Succeeds. “We launched this unique research initiative to start a national conversation around durable skills, so that schools understand the importance of educating for them and corporate leaders recognize the urgent need to partner with the education system to solve their workforce challenges.”

Using Emsi’s database of tens of millions of employer job postings from the past two years, America Succeeds categorized 100 of the most in-demand durable skills into 10 major themes or competencies.

Key findings include:

  • The top five durable skills are requested nearly four (3.8) times more than the top five hard skills
  • Over 29 million postings (36 percent) requested at least three of these skills
  • Leadership and communication competencies are in highest demand, requested by 50+ percent of postings
  • While the value of durable skills is high nationwide, geographic regions differ from one another and from national averages in their demand for specific competencies

“Companies will continue to compete on innovation and talent like never before which makes the use, sharing, and transparency of skills data across stakeholder groups even more important to the world of work”, said Cheryl Oldham, senior vice president of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “Collective action around durable skills is one way to ensure Americans have the right skills for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and the economy has the skilled workforce it needs to grow.”

The report represents the initial results of a long-term initiative to identify and elevate the need for durable skills training across the full spectrum of education-to-employment pathways. America Succeeds continues to expand its research and advocacy campaign, partnering with leading corporations that are seeking to foster greater student achievement, build an educated workforce pipeline, and protect the nation’s future economic vitality.

Additional supporters of the initiative include SHRM, CompTIA, The Manufacturing Institute, Business Agility Institute, Associated Builders and Contractors, and Americans for the Arts.

Laura Ascione

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