The Skills Imperative 2035: Essential skills for tomorrow’s workforce

Learning and Work Institute will be part of a new project with the National Foundation for Education Research (NFER) and other partners, identifying the future of essential employment skills in our changing labour market.


23 06 2021

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The impact of artificial intelligence and automation technologies on work and society is one of the major strategic challenges of the coming decades and has been accelerated through the pandemic.

But much is still unknown about the nature of this impact – how work will change, the inequalities that might arise, and what skills people will need for work and well-being in the future.

This research programme, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and led by the National Foundation for Education Research, will address these questions, looking ahead to the 2030s.

During the project, we will work with employers, policy makers, and education leaders to provide practical insights and evidence-led recommendations to inform long-term planning for how future demands for essential employment skills can be met.

It will also establish which groups of people are most at risk of not acquiring the necessary skills and therefore being excluded from the labour market.

The five-year research programme will:

  1. identify the essential employment skills that people will need for work in the future;
  2. project the demand and supply of essential employment skills for 2035, drawing on findings from a new survey of essential employment skills survey amongst young people and adults aged 16-65 in England;
  3. establish who is most at risk of not acquiring the necessary skills and being excluded from the labour market; and examine the potential welfare implications.
  4. investigate how these skills can be developed through the education system and other mechanisms.

Findings will be published as they emerge in a series of reports from January 2022. The outputs of the project will focus on practical insights and evidence that will inform planning for how to meet the future demand for essential employment skills.

Briefing paper 1 - Literature review

Fiona Aldridge, Director for Policy and Research
As our economy is changing, so too are those essential employment skills needed to successfully build a career. Learning and Work is delighted to be working with partners to identify the labour market skills that will be in demand over the next few decades, and to explore how we ensure that all young people have opportunity to develop them. A key focus of our role will be to engage with stakeholders across government, industry and education to ensure that this work influences both policy and practice - helping to secure a fair and prosperous future for tomorrow’s workforce.

For more information about the project, please contact Sam Windett.