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Introducing the Skills Builder Careers Explorer: essential skills profiles for 1,000+ jobs

From today everyone can learn exactly what essential skills they need to succeed in their career aspirations.

The Careers Explorer dataset outlines the level of the eight essential skills required for for almost every job in today’s economy, in line with the extended Standard Occupational Classification (SOC).

The data provides an exciting next step that builds on the challenges revealed in our Essential Skills Tracker 2023 skills research, providing actionable insights. You can try out the Careers Explorer online tool and select a job title to see the levels of each essential skill required, and you can compare jobs too. Each skill profile shows the range, from the minimum to maximum level of skill score for the selected job.

The Careers Explorer has many practical uses across contexts and scenarios. For example, it enables analysis of the essential skills requirements in the context of any research incorporating a Standard Occupational Classification – for instance, into apprenticeships, higher education, or the labour market. For businesses and employers, the Careers Explorer can inform hiring processes and decisions, grounding recruitment and development in evidence. You can explore the essential skills profile for a job, or set of jobs, to inform job descriptions, candidate selection, and professional development journeys. 

For those with career products, we’ve already seen uptake from Morrisby, leading careers-matching service for schools, careers organisations and individuals, integrating the Careers Explorer data into their product. 

"At Morrisby, we recognise that essential skills are as important for successful careers as formal qualifications. Displaying career-specific essential skills on our platform reinforces this message and provides enhanced guidance to young people as they navigate their journey into employment. We are delighted therefore to be working with The Skills Builder Partnership on this important initiative" 

Chris Glennie, CEO, Morrisby

Sales and retail assistants’ Essential Skill profile

An £8,000 wage premium for those with higher essential skills

In developing the data, we found further justification of a significant wage premium associated with higher levels of essential skills. When combining our Careers Explorer data with labour market information, a wage premium associated with moving from the Q1 skill score to the Q3 skill score emerges of around £8,000. This is compared to around £4,000 in our previous research through the Essential Skills Tracker 2023. This figure doesn't account for controls, like in the Tracker.

Skill Score by Wage

Essential skills are more important now than a decade ago

When we combine labour market data with our Careers Explorer data, we find that demand for essential skills has grown in the last decade. The trend seems to have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Creativity and Problem Solving.

Labour Market Essential Skills Demand Over Time, 2012-2022

Labour market essential skills gaps

For the first time, we can also observe the gaps between essential skill demand for the UK economy, and average self-assessed essential skill level for the UK working-age population. The largest gaps are observed in Creativity, Leadership and Aiming High. We saw in our Essential Skills Tracker 2023 research that Creativity appeared to be lacking, while we saw a wide range of scores across Leadership.

Labour Market Essential Skill Demand vs Working-age Self-assessed skill scores

Distribution of skill scores in the Essential Skills Tracker 2023. 

Discover and download the Careers Explorer data 

What are essential skills?

Essential skills are those highly transferable skills like problem solving, teamwork and leadership that you need for almost any job. These eight skills are codified and broken down into measurable, teachable components in the Skills Builder Universal Framework

The eight essential skills are:

  • Listening: receiving, retaining and processing of information or ideas
  • Speaking: oral transmission of information or ideas
  • Problem Solving: ability to find a solution to a situation or challenge 
  • Creativity: use of imagination and the generation of new ideas
  • Staying Positive: ability to use tactics and strategies to overcome setbacks and achieve goals
  • Aiming High: ability to set clear, tangible goals and devise a robust route to achieving them 
  • Leadership: supporting, encouraging and developing others to achieve a shared goal
  • Teamwork: working cooperatively with others towards achieving a shared goal

What is the Standard Occupational Classification?

The SOC classifies jobs through breaking categories of jobs down into a set of increasingly specific layers. They go from ‘major group’ to the extended classification of ‘sub-unit group’, for example, Skilled Trades Occupations as the major group is further specified to a particular job, in this case Poultry Farmers. This added layer of specificity is the ‘extended SOC’, and the resulting classifications include 1,137 jobs. 

Government bodies, such as the Bureau of Labour Statistics (BLS) in the US or Office of National Statistics (ONS) in the UK release SOCs for public use, and produce statistics that include SOC. 

How did we get here?

The Universal Framework is the de facto model of essential skills development across the country. To support this, we need to continue to provide tools and insights that can support its use. In this project, we aimed to do exactly that.

A year in the making, our approach was to develop a practical dataset for essential skill scores using data science. Kindly funded by the Gatsby Foundation, we set about exploring the project's feasibility in October 2022. 

Using various methods like computational analysis, natural language processing, multiple linear regression, and neural networks, in combination with over a decade of experience in essential skills, we reached our goal to create a dataset that, for the first time, reveals the essential skills required to do almost any job in today’s economy.

You can read more about the process, challenges, and the future of this work in the technical report.

We are grateful to the Gatsby Foundation for funding this work so that it can be made freely available to all.