The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) has published a report looking at the skills people will need for the future world of work.

The current world of work is in a state of transformation due to technological advancements, environmental changes, demographic shifts, and the impact of Covid-19. Calls are intensifying for workforce reskilling and a re-engineering of education and training to meet the demands of the future.

Current policy in England focuses on technical, digital and green economy skills, underpinned by strong literacy and numeracy and a knowledge-rich school curriculum. There is currently limited understanding of the combination of essential employment skills which will be needed, their relative importance, and how to develop them.

To fill this evidence gap, the NFER research study, ‘the Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce’ looks at:

  • Which essential employment skills will be most needed in 2035;
  • What will their likely supply be and where the gaps will be;
  • Which occupations and workers are most at risk of not having these skills;
  • Which skills will affected workers need to develop to transition into new employment opportunities, and
  • The role of educators and employers in helping to prepare young people and workers for the future labour market.

There seems little doubt that the labour market will change and evolve over time.  The report suggests that some sectors will develop while others will decline: –

  • Growing sectors are predicted to be health, social & personal care roles; education; professional services; sales/business development; creative, digital & design; green economy; information & communication; and natural & applied sciences.
  • Declining sectors are predicted to be administrative/secretarial; manufacturing/production; and retail/cashier work. Agricultural and business administration/finance sectors are also widely expected to decline.

The report also found that in addition to literacy & numeracy and technical / digital skills, that transferable and interpersonal skills will become ever more important in the face of technology. These are categorised as: –

  1. Analytical/creative;
  2. Interpersonal;
  3. Self-management; and
  4. Emotional intelligence skills.

While self-management skills and social and emotional strengths are generally found to be better predictors of income at the age 25 than cognitive skills, well-developed essential employment skills have also been linked to a higher level of academic performance. However, there is little doubt that there will be significant challenges in the forthcoming years for both educational institutes, training providers and employers, who will all need to respond quickly to address future need.

The full report can be accessed here.