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Problem-Solving Ranked by Employers as the Most Important Skill for their Employees
May 24, 2019
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LifeSkills created by Barclays asked UK employers across a range of different sectors and industries to choose the skills that matter most to them when building their workforce.

The seven core skills identified are:

  1. Proactivity
  2. Adaptability
  3. Leadership
  4. Creativity
  5. Resilience
  6. Communication, and
  7. Problem-solving

When asked which of these seven core skills was the most important, problem-solving was number one, ranking higher than creativity, leadership or communication.

However, when employers were asked to identify the skills that had become more important over the last 10 years, adaptability came out highest for 61% of employers.

Looking ahead, businesses say the most important skill they want to see in their workforce over the next 10 years is communication, with 35% of employers believing this will become ‘extremely important’ in the next decade. Adaptability followed in second place.

Kirstie Mackey, Head of  LifeSkills  created with Barclays, said:

“The workplace is changing. Today’s job-seekers are far more likely to find themselves facing a career ‘web’ that offers much more variation in the roles and sectors they can go into. With that comes a whole host of new opportunities, but it also means that core, transferable skills such as problem-solving have never been more crucial.

“It’s vital that the skill sets of the next generation match the attributes that employers are looking for. To achieve that, we need employers, educators and the Government to work together and agree a core set of transferable skills that the UK can put its support behind and provide the tools needed to upskill our workforce. Practical careers advice and skills building educational resources – such as those provided by Barclays LifeSkills – are the perfect starting point to do that.”

Table 1: Proportion of employers ranking each of the employability skills as the most important
Problem-solving 19%
Creativity 17%
Leadership 16%
Adaptability 16%
Resilience 12%
Communication 11%
Proactivity 9%

Table 2: Proportion of employers considering each of the seven skills as having become more important over the last 10 years
Adaptability 61%
Communication 54%
Problem-solving 52%
Proactivity 49%
Resilience 47%
Leadership 46%
Creativity 42%

Table 3: Proportion of employers considering which of the seven skills will become ‘extremely important’ in the next 10 years
Communication 35%
Adaptability 30%
Problem-solving 27%
Leadership 22%
Proactivity 20%
Resilience 20%
Creativity 20%

The research was carried out by NatCen on behalf of Barclays LifeSkills in July 2018. A total of 680 employers, all with an influence on recruitment at their organisation, took part in the survey. Employers belonged to a range of different sectors and industries and were located across UK regions.

About LifeSkills: Bringing together educators, businesses, young people and parents to inspire millions of young people and equip them with the key skills to move forward into the 21st-century workplace. 


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