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. 

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.