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Idaho employers most interested in 'durable skills,' Emsi study shows

Idaho schools should take notice and intentionally cultivate 'people' skills in their classrooms, according to Idaho Business for Education President Rod Gramer.

IDAHO, USA — Idaho-based data analytic company Emsi conducted a study looking at more than 500,000 Gem State job postings to understand what skills are in highest demand.

Six out of the top ten most-requested skills are considered 'durable skills' - more colloquially known as 'soft' or 'people' skills. The study by Emsi lists the 10 most-desirable durable skills as requested by Idaho employers:

  • Communication 
  • Leadership 
  • Metacognition (self awareness)
  • Critical Thinking 
  • Collaboration 
  • Character 
  • Growth mindset 
  • Mindfulness 
  • Creativity 
  • Fortitude

Idaho Business for Education (IBE) works to strengthen public education by preparing students at all levels for the workforce, according to President and CEO Rod Gramer.

Durable skills seamlessly translate from different jobs in an everchanging workforce, Gramer said. While technical skills are certainly important, Gramer argues public schools should make a strong effort to cultivate durable skills in the classroom.

"These skills are not just white-collar skills or skills for accountants, or journalists or teachers," Gramer said. "These are skills that are also required in the trades, the ability to work with other people. So, these are skills that across the board, across every career, are necessary skills to have. They're not limited to any one career or any kind of profession."

The study concluded employers asked for the top-five durable skills four times more often than they asked for the top-five technical skills.

Gramer is not asking Idaho schools to create a durable skills class, but instead Gramer wants Idaho schools to integrate durable skills into the regular everyday curriculum.

"We're not saying these skills are being ignored," Gramer said. "A lot of educators are aware these skills are important. What we're talking about is being intentional. Let’s go out of our way to make sure the development of these skills are included in the curriculum. In math, we know there are many ways to get to the right answer. If we can teach students to think critically about that, analyze, and get to the answer the answer the best way they can get to it."

IBE is focused on bringing awareness to Emsi's study. They hope to soon work with educators and school district superintendents on developing intentional curriculum at the local level to cultivate durable skills throughout all subjects.

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