The Skills Imperative 2035: An analysis of the demand for skills in the labour market in 2035

Andy Dickerson and Gennaro Rossi, University of Sheffield - Luke Bocock, Jude Hillary and David Simcock, National Foundation for Educational Research

25 May 2023

 Mapping UK SOC2020 to O*NET

Anticipated changes to the labour market threaten to exacerbate existing skills shortages, which are already a major issue. There are currently over a million job vacancies in this country. Findings from our programme of research, the Skills Imperative 2035, suggest that existing skills shortages could worsen - implying urgent action is needed to prevent knock-on effects to our economy and society. 

This report is the third to be published by The Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce research programme and identifies the skills that will be most needed in the future labour market. This report utilises employment projections that were reliant on data from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) up to 2021.

Unfortunately, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) announced in 2022 they had made coding errors in the LFS. The document below explains this issue and the impact on our skills projections, which is fortunately limited. Revised tables and figures from Working paper 3 are also provided.

Working paper 3b - An analysis of the demand for skills in the labour market in 2035 – Revised projections

An analysis of the demand for skills in the labour market in 2035 – Revised tables and figures

Key Findings

  • Whilst specialist skills and knowledge are vital in most occupations, it is transferable ‘essential employment skills’ that will be in greatest demand across the labour market in 2035.
  • The six most vital ‘essential employment skills’, anticipated to be most in-demand by employers in the future, are; (1) communication, (2) collaboration, (3) problem-solving, (4) organising, planning & prioritising work, (5) creative thinking and (6) ‘information literacy’ (skills related to gathering, processing, and using information).

These six skills were identified by projecting the skills that will be required in each occupation in 2035 and combining these with future employment projections. Future skills projections were produced using data on the importance and usage of 161 skills in the US Occupational Information Network (O*NET); the most comprehensive and respected occupational information database of its kind. 

To meet future skills demands, we will need to increase the availability of these ‘essential employment skills’ across the workforce, help and support more workers to progress their careers by developing these skills, and ensure young people have higher average levels of these skills than previous generations when they first enter the workforce.

Related Titles

Urgent action needed to prevent skills shortages and potential impact on the economy and employment - Press release

The Skills Imperative 2035 - More information about the research programme