This piece reframes how we look at skills, asking us to recognize that technical and job specific skills are more perishable than transferable “durable” skills.
“Skills Aren’t Soft or Hard — They’re Durable or Perishable” asks us to rethink the way we categorize and train for different types of skills. It points to research that shows that most skills have a “half-life” of five years, with more technical skills being closer to two-and-a-half years. Because near-constant training is necessary in our highly dynamic world of work, employers and training centers must be more strategic in their choice of skills on which to focus. For example, training on the latest version of company software may be necessary, but that knowledge is highly perishable and too narrow to be widely applied. Instead, a company should focus on skills such as project management and effective communication because those skills are durable and in the long run, enhance the attainment of the “perishable” skills as well. Effective communication is foundational to many other types of skill-building, such as learning that new version of the company software.