Pearson study suggests human skills the ‘power skills’ in demand in UK job market

New research from Pearson, an international learning company, finds that despite new technologies transforming the world of work, the top five most in demand skills today are human skills. The trend is set to continue through at least 2026.


New research from Pearson, an international learning company, finds that despite new technologies transforming the world of work, the top five most in demand skills today are human skills. The trend is set to continue through at least 2026.

Using an analysis of more than 21 million job ads, in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. Pearson’s Skills Outlook identifies today’s new ‘power skills’ – those capabilities now powering the world’s economy and individual careers. The analysis shows that while technical capabilities remain vitally important for many roles, employers highly prize human skills. This includes collaboration, communication and teamwork.

UK skills outlook

Pearson’s Skills Outlook shows that UK job ads in 2022 were dominated by five human skills:

  • Communication
  • Organisation
  • Customer Service
  • Attention to Detail
  • Teamwork

Looking ahead to 2026, Pearson’s modelling suggests the top five power skills that will be most in-demand to meet UK economic need are also human skills:

Customer Focus
Personal Learning & Mastery
Achievement Focus
Cultural and Social Intelligence

Mike Howells, President, Pearson Workforce Skills said, “While technical skills are important for many jobs. People will need to retrain frequently to ensure they keep up with the pace of technology. Employers are realising human skills are the power skills that help people stay relevant and adaptable in a changing world. Businesses need to act now to help employees upskill. Employees need to adopt a mindset that helps them learn across their lifetime. A strong foundation of human skills is essential for success for employers and employees both now and in the future.”

The need for human skills

Although demand for technical skills is increasing, technology evolves so quickly that these capabilities often have a short shelf-life. Furthermore, they can be unique to specific industries or jobs. People in tech roles need human skills to be agile and adaptable in their learning. The research findings provide guidance to employers on where they should focus their training and education programmes.

In the first of a series of Skills Outlooks, looking at today’s Power Skills, Pearson used Faethm’s workforce AI and predictive analytics. The tool looks at census, workforce and recruitment data in four major economies – the US, UK, Australia and Canada. It then models how job requirements are evolving as a result of technological change. With nearly 1,400 enterprise clients, Pearson has a strong foundation and unique expertise in the workforce skilling market.


Using its AI and predictive analytics platform, Faethm, Pearson assessed the current market for skills using job ad data. The data models the future market for skills using its Future Capability Framework:

2022 skills:

To identify current in-demand and trending skills, a total of 21.8M job ads from January to March 2022 were analysed. Comprised of 17.7M US ads, 1.86M Canadian ads, 1.80M UK ads and 0.51M Australian ads. The job ads were analysed using Natural Language Processing models pre-trained on a language model containing 2.7 billion articles. This was followed by further training on labelled job ads and data on implicit skills. The final output of the models is a set of matched skills present in each job ad. In-demand skills are identified from those appearing in the highest percentage of ads. While trending skills are those with the fastest climbing trajectory of mentions in ads.

2026 skills:

To model the future state of work, Faethm’s Future Capability Framework applies a prediction of automation and augmentation. This works to model changes to the future workforce and identify the work skills and abilities required in the future. The framework was developed by simulating the impact of emerging technologies on work tasks 15 years in the future. Then identifying all attributes (skills, knowledge and personal behaviours) which will remain important in the future of work. The future capabilities were derived by grouping future-essential work attributes into relevant human and work capabilities drawn from evidence-based research.

Finally, to determine future capability maturity a standardized levelling of capability for all occupations was determined, from which was extrapolated the future development need for individual occupations. The level of maturity for each occupation, now and in the future, was then used in conjunction with the best available workforce data for the countries analysed to produce a whole country view.

Individuals can empower themselves to develop the skills critical to deliver on their career goals. This becomes mission-critical during a time of skills shortages, particularly among individuals with the technical skills needed by today’s enterprises. Businesses are responsible for unlocking their team’s potential and providing the processes and infrastructure to enable innovations in the enterprise. Pearson’s report is particularly interesting because it suggests that it’s the soft ‘human’ skills are what enterprises need to thrive. Technology is rapidly evolving and responding to new and emerging trends developing among consumers. As a result, businesses have to provide the infrastructure and culture that allows their employees’ soft skills to remain relevant and adaptable in a world that rapidly changes.

Posted: December 17, 2022