New Pearson study: Human skills are the work ‘power skills’ most in demand

Pearson office in Cedar Rapids. CREDIT ACME ELECTRIC
Pearson's offices in southwest Cedar Rapids. CREDIT ACME ELECTRIC

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

Using an analysis of more than 21 million job ads from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, Pearson’s Skills Outlook identifies today’s new “power skills” – those human skills now powering the world’s work economy and individual careers.

The analysis shows that while technical capabilities remain vitally important for many roles, employers highly prize human skills such as collaboration, communication and leadership.

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

  • Communication
  • Customer Service
  • Leadership
  • Attention to Detail
  • Collaboration

Looking ahead to 2026, Pearson’s AI-based modeling suggests that the top five power skills that will be most in demand to meet economic needs are also human skills:

  • Collaboration
  • Customer Focus
  • Personal Learning & Mastery
  • Personal Learning & Mastery
  • Cultural and Social Intelligence

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

Although demand for technical skills is increasing, technology evolves so quickly that these capabilities often have a short shelf-life and 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 programs.