Buzzword watch: ‘Durable skills’ are the new soft skills

Soft skills nudged the phrase 21st century skills out of the K12 lexicon and now it’s being replaced by this latest college-and-career-oriented buzzword: Durable skills.

So is there a difference between durable and soft skills? Well, we’ve spotted a few new wrinkles in the key terms highlighted by America Succeeds, a nonprofit focused on K12-business collaboration:

  • Character
  • Mindfulness
  • Metacognition
  • Leadership
  • Growth mindset
  • Fortitude
  • Critical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Collaboration
  • Character

Metacognition and mindfulness seem to be new characteristics that have been added to the traditional list of soft skills. And “fortitude” seems to be a riff on “resilience.”

DA’s “Talking Out of School” Podcast is now live! Join the District Administration editorial team and special guests every Wednesday as they discuss their experiences, strategies and forecasts for K12 education.

“Durable skills include a combination of how you use what you know—skills like critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity—as well as character skills like fortitude, growth mindset, and leadership,” America Succeeds attests.

The nonprofit has already examined whether these durable skills are included in each state’s college and career readiness standards and where improvement is needed. Massachusetts, for example, includes all of the durable skills noted above in its standards. Texas does not, and the state doesn’t even have specific career readiness standards for K12, America Succeeds points out.

The organization encourages K12 leaders to continue to find ways to measure whether students are developing durable skills and embed these metrics in “college and career-ready projects, experiences, and opportunities, including work-based learning.” Students should have opportunities to demonstrate durable skills across a range of experiences and assessments.

“Durable skills take the old concept of soft skills and expand it across the various attributes required to interact with others and be successful in the workplace,” Forbes explained in a recent article. “Skills such as teamwork, collaboration, negotiation, critical thinking, initiative, risk-taking, creativity, adaptability, leadership, cognitive flexibility and problem-solving are just some of the many durable skills.”

Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

Most Popular