The Importance of Basic Professional Skills

Published on October 14, 2021

Basic professional skills represent the skillset in greatest demand across all businesses, industries, and occupations and are transferrable skills that employees use in every job. Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Center has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed professional and people skills, and only 15% of job success comes from technical skills and knowledge (hard skills)[1]. LinkedIn found that “57 percent of leaders say basic professional skills are more important than hard skills“[2]. In the Greater Washington region, 40% of the Top 50 in-demand skills are professional-skills[3]. A partial list of such skills includes: communication, teamwork, self-motivation, flexibility, leadership, and time management.

The Alexandria/Arlington Regional Workforce Council seeks to infuse its customers with basic professional skills that we hear our region’s employers demand. Research shows that such skills can be taught and learned but more must be done to equip the workforce with them. The Council believes the following actions are key to improving the acquisition of basic professional skills.

  • Universal recognition of the value that strong basic professional skills bring to the workplace;
  • Increased training investments by government and businesses in basic professional skills development;
  • Integration of basic professional skills development opportunities into elementary and secondary school curriculum; and
  • Introduction of basic professional skills learning opportunities within certificate and credential-bearing programs.



[3] JObsEQ.

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