Nonprofit organizations working to define, develop and assess the skills that are key to success in the 21st Century workforce

Are you tackling the durable skills challenge?

Nonprofit organizations working to define, develop and assess the durable skills that are key to success in the 21st century workforce

 A new effort to evaluate the “durable” skills that lead to success and achievement in the 21st century workforce was launched this spring by nonprofit organizations America Succeeds and CompTIA.

America Succeeds and CompTIA are collaborating on ways to integrate durable skills into education pathways – in the classroom for future workers and in employee training for individuals already in the workforce – to prepare them for success in their careers and communities.

“Durable skills are the skills that last a lifetime, the skills that you use to demonstrate what you know and the skills that employers are looking for,” said Tim Taylor, co-founder and president of America Succeeds, a national nonprofit that is committed to engaging business leaders in accelerating equity, access, and opportunity in education.

“We believe helping students better develop their innate durable skills at an early age will help them compete, contribute, and thrive in their careers,” said Todd Thibodeaux president and CEO of CompTIA, the nonprofit association for the information technology (IT) industry and workforce.

Durable skills, also referred to as soft skills, human skills or 21st century skills, can be difficult to define or quantify. Generally, they fall under ten major themes or competencies:
1. Leadership
2. Collaboration
3. Creativity
4. Metacognition
5. Growth mindset
6. Character
7. Communication
8. Critical thinking
9. Mindfulness
10. Fortitude

The first step planned by America Succeeds and CompTIA is to bring employers together to define a common rubric of the durable skills that apply across industries and occupations with the goal of developing a method to assess an individual’s competency level and understanding of durable skills and identify actions that can enhance them.

Separate research by the two organizations suggests that employers are interested in identifying job candidates with these skillsets and providing training to close the durable skills gap:

  • Seven of the ten most requested skills in jobs postings are durable skills.
  • Employers seek these skills nearly five times more frequently than the top five technical or hard skills.
  • Two-thirds of HR professionals say durables skills are becoming more important and more of a focus, though half acknowledge some degree of confusion and challenges with soft skills/durable skills.
  • Sixty-eight percent of HR professionals believe most or all the top 10 durable skills categories can be taught.

“Employers clearly recognize the importance and value of recruiting people with solid durable skills, especially in a tight labor market with little margin for error in hiring decisions,” Thibodeaux said. “The challenge is finding a way to accurately and fairly assess a candidate’s prowess in these areas. We’re committed to finding solutions to solve this dilemma, in a way that eliminates barriers and creates opportunities for a more inclusive group of job candidates.”

“As we begin to recover from the pandemic, it is essential that we address the inequities that have been amplified, and at the same time reimagine and restructure education systems and career pathways to work better for all,” said Taylor. “Defining and assessing durable skills allows us to focus on those solutions and see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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