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Better integrating durable skills in K-12 education will help ensure that more learners ultimately find success in their careers and communities

The path to success is paved with durable skills


Better integrating durable skills in K-12 education will help ensure that more learners ultimately find success in their careers and communities

Workforce needs are ever-changing, and in order to keep pace, today’s students should develop–as early as possible–the durable skills necessary for technological and interpersonal success.

Durable skills include skills like critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, along with leadership, mindfulness, the ability to fail, and a growth mindset. And it doesn’t matter which career path a student takes–durable skills will be necessary for success on that path.

In a report, America Succeeds partnered with Lightcast to look at 82 million job postings from 2019 and 2020 and identify how large the demand is for job applicants with these skills.

That report breaks 100 of the most in-demand durable skills into 10 major competencies:
1. Leadership: Directing efforts and delivering results
2. Character: Personal and professional conduct
3. Collaboration: Teamwork and connection
4. Communication: Information exchange and management
5. Creativity: New ideas and novel solutions
6. Critical Thinking: Informed ideas and effective solutions
7. Metacognition: Self-understanding and personal management
8. Mindfulness: Interpersonal and self-awareness
9. Growth Mindset: Improvement and aspiration
10. Fortitude: Constitution and inspiration

Sixty-one percent of all U.S. job postings in this timeframe requested at least one durable skill.

Key findings include:

  • Seven of the 10 most-requested skills in job postings are durable skills
  • Employers look for these skills nearly four times more frequently than the top 5 technical or hard skills
  • Demand for these skills is greatest in jobs more aligned to the future of work–91 percent of management jobs, 86 percent of business operations, and 81 percent of engineering jobs require these skills
  • Jobs at the greatest risk of automation in the near term have a lower demand for durable skills

Of particular importance is this: Durable skills will be necessary for workers to excel and move along job pathways whether or not they obtain postsecondary degrees or credentials.

“As we look toward economic recovery and meeting the challenge of building a diverse, inclusive workforce, we believe better integrating durable skills in K-12 education will help ensure a broader group of learners ultimately find success in their careers and communities,” according to the report.

Businesses are well-positioned to higlight the importance of developing durable skills, but this effort also requires committment from educators, state leaders, policymakers, parents and families, and other stakeholders.

“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. 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,” said Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President of Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in the report.

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Laura Ascione

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