The Great Disruption is changing the skills you need on the job

Report: BurningGlass Institute, Emsi BurningGlass, and Boston Consulting Group find that 37% of the top skills needed for the average U.S. job have been replaced over the past 5 years

The types of skills you need in the workforce have shifted throughout history. Over the past century-plus, we’ve gone from an agrarian economy to an industrial economy to a tech-centric economy focused on information and services.

So, it really isn’t a surprise that the work skills we need today are so much different than the ones we needed a few decades ago.

What may be surprising is just how fast those skills have changed in the past few years.

According to a new report from the Burning Glass Institute, Emsi Burning Glass, and the Boston Consulting Group – Shifting Skills, Moving Targets, and Remaking the Workforce – 37% of the top 20 skills needed for the average U.S. job have been replaced over the past five years. Additionally, one-in-five of the average job’s top skills were entirely new to the job during that same period, particularly in the two years since the pandemic.

Trends that seemed to be driving these changes:  the rising demand for digital skills in non-digital occupations, for soft skills in digital occupations, for visual communications skills across occupations, and for social media skills.

I talked to Matt Sigelman, president of the Burning Glass Institute, about the report findings.

The report calls it “The Great Disruption.”

“We found that the pace of change accelerated markedly during the pandemic. Whether you’re talking about digital skills, soft skills or foundational skills, or social media skills, these are skills that almost everyone’s being asked to have,” Sigelman explains.

“The pace of change has significant implications for higher education and its ability to ensure that graduates have the skills they need to launch successfully. It also has significant implication for whether workers will be able to keep up, or they will find themselves obsolete. So, you, the worker, need to, to be aware of what skills will drive your career going forward,” he adds. 

There are also significant implications for companies and whether they can have the the workforce they need going forward, according to Sigelman.

You can read more details of the report here.