In today’s rapidly changing work environments, the demand for the skills needed for success – highly transferable skills we call essential skills – is growing. With organisations facing difficulties in securing the talent they need, reporting skills shortages, and challenges with employee turnover, many view skills as the answer to provide solutions such as expanding talent pools and encouraging retention.
The demand for skills is increasing
Essential skills are in demand -- playing a critical role for both employees and employers. These skills are the eight highly transferable skills like problem solving, teamwork and leadership that you need for almost any job. And we see this demand confirmed in our new data: essential skills are more important now than a decade ago. In a trend that seems to have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic, we see demand increase most for Creativity and Problem Solving.
There’s also the demand for essential skills from individuals:
- 89% of UK adults believe essential skills are important for successful employment and career progression
- 83% would like more opportunities to build essential skills in the workplace
- 92% believe essential skills should form part of their professional development.
Essential skill gaps in the UK workforce
The Careers Explorer data shows evidence of essential skills gaps in the labour market, with those largest observed in Creativity, Leadership and Aiming High. Evidence of lacking creativity among UK workers was reported in the Essential Skills Tracker 2023 research, which also demonstrated the wide range of skill scores across Leadership.
Using the Careers Explorer as a starting point to address skills challenges
To address these challenges, organisations can tap into the latest data from Skills Builder Partnership. Our new data and tool, the Skills Builder Careers Explorer reveals the essential skills of over 1,000 jobs, allowing businesses to ground recruitment and development in evidence.
The Careers Explorer data can help hiring managers and HR professionals make well-informed decisions on role expectations by determining a baseline for essential skills in nearly every job role.
You can also explore how skill levels vary across the eight essential skills within a specific role. For example, not all senior roles would necessarily possess mastery-level across all eight skills. There may be one or two skills in this stage of skill development that are seen as most important to that role. Seeing how skills rank higher or lower than others can help provide a focus in the recruitment process, aiding decision making and shortlisting.
To ensure greater transparency and fairness across your whole recruitment process, you can also build these requirements into your role descriptions, application forms, and interview questions.
For learning and development
Individuals and line managers can use the Careers Explorer as a starting point to understand the skills required for various roles. It can also help guide development by equipping staff with the language to articulate these essential skills. This can then help to create tailored development plans for individuals based on their needs, whether in their current role, or with a focus on progression.
At a team level, employers can use the data to shape staff development plans based on the most relevant essential skills needed across different teams.
Reaching beyond your organisation
Businesses can use the essential skill profile data to enhance connections with those outside the labour market by articulating and demonstrating the skills required in your workplace. This can help people understand how their skills can translate into specific roles in the organisation. Bringing these role profiles to life, you can build them into outreach or CSR materials you share, or programmes you already deliver, and encourage staff to share their essential skill experiences with others.
Reframing recruitment with Morgan Sindall: How Morgan Sindall used the Universal Framework and Skills Builder approach
Organisation: Morgan Sindall, a leading UK construction and regeneration group, providing services in the highways, rail, aviation, energy, water and nuclear markets.
When Morgan Sindall wanted to clarify their hiring process for their graduate and apprenticeship roles, they knew that essential skills could be the answer. With an ambitious project in mind, we needed to equip their early careers HR team with the know-how and confidence to review job descriptions and identify the essential skills required for each role.
Morgan Sindall attended a series of workshops where we trained their staff in essential skills, and importantly in how to identify the appropriate, specific steps of the essential skills in the Universal Framework.
40 role types were clarified using the language of essential skills, and Morgan Sindall has communicated this through their job application packs sent out earlier this year. Since our work with Morgan Sindall, we’ve had very positive feedback from the team, who reported they received around 700 applications across those role types which was a significant rise in the number of high-quality applications received, totalling an increase of over 170%.