June 10, 2024

Patterns of co-occurrent skills in UK job adverts

A job cannot usually be distilled into a single skill but instead involves the application of several complementary or synergistic skills to perform its required tasks. These relationships are implicitly recognised by employers in the skills they demand when recruiting new employees. In this new report for the Pissarides Review, the research team at Imperial College have constructed a skills network based on their co-occurrence in a national level data set of 65 million job postings from the UK spanning 2016 to 2022.

This work allows for new analyses of the co-occurrence of skills that go beyond expert categorisation alone, highlighting the ranges of skills that are being demanded over time, and the ways in which individual skills and clusters of skills are connected across the skills network.

It finds notable differences in the geographic distribution of skill clusters across England. The two most common clusters of ‘Strategic Management and Governance’ and ‘Professional Skills’ have quite different spatial distributions, while less common clusters are found in specific regions where their skills are particularly in demand. This largely reflects variation in the industrial and occupational composition of these regions and will be studied in further work. Between 2016 and 2022, we find evidence that a wider diversity of skills is being required in job adverts: on average, adverts are now spanning more skill clusters. Overall the closeness centrality of skills increases, while the within-cluster skill containment decreases. Notable decreases in the containment and increases in the closeness centrality of ‘Software Development Technologies’ suggests previously contained technical skills being more widely required across the job market.

The relationships between skills in the UK labour market are complex, and the demand for skills differs significantly across the country. Groups of skills are commonly required alongside one another in ways that are not expected based on the categorisation of skills by experts. Over time, the dynamics of the UK skills network suggests a broadening of the skills required of workers in the UK, with diverse skills being required together more often.

Read the reportRead the report


Zhaolu Liu, Jonathan Clarke, Bertha Rohenkohl and Mauricio Barahona

Publication type



Pissarides Review into the Future of Work and Wellbeing

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