What is the skills evolution model?

Our skills evolution model identifies five patterns that might describe the change in demand for a skill. Like all of our demand-based metrics, the skills evolution model is based on historical job postings over the past four years. Learn more about our demand data.

The five different demand pattern categories in our model are mutually exclusive but not collectively exhaustive, meaning a skill can only appear in one category at a time, but doesn’t have to appear in any category at all. In other words, there are skills whose growth patterns don’t fit the definition of any category and therefore don’t appear in our model.

What can I use this data for?

You can use the skill evolution model to monitor emerging skills, identify core skills to hire for, and take note of declining skills to move away from.

Acquire: Where do you get your skills data?

To identify and calculate demand for skills, we monitor job postings from thousands of sources, including job boards, corporate sites, partner feeds, news sites, staffing websites, and applicant tracking systems. Every day, we process an average of 1.3 million job postings in 22 different languages. Learn more about our skills data.


Organize: How do you organize the skills data?

Job postings are written in any format the employer sees fit. When data is unstructured like this, it must be cleaned and prepared before it can be analyzed. Cleaning and preparation can include translation, stripping punctuation and special characters, and removing extraneous text not related to the job.


Analyze: How do you calculate the skills evolution model?

Skills that have been identified and added to our database may fall into any of the five categories in our evolution model. Each category is defined using a number of different rules working in tandem. Many of these rules are based on the percentage of relevant job postings that a skill appears in. While we can’t publish the specifics of our proprietary model, we can provide a general description of the rules for each category.

As a note, our model is designed so that not all skills must appear in a category, but those that do may only appear in one category at a time.

  • New: New skills appear in a very small proportion of job postings four and three years ago, a small percentage of job postings two years ago and last year, and at least five job postings within the past year. 

  • Emerging: Emerging skills appear in a very small proportion of job postings four, three, and two years ago, and in a larger proportion of jobs postings within the past year.

  • Growing: Growing skills appear in an increasing percentage of job postings each year over a four year period. They have also experienced growth of at least 50% between four years ago and this past year. Growing skills must also currently appear in a significant proportion of job postings.

  • Core: Core skills appear in a consistently high percentage of job postings over the past four years.

  • Declining: Declining skills appear in a significant percentage of job postings four years ago. They have also experienced a decline of at least 25% between four years ago and this past year. 

Deliver: How do you communicate data in the skills evolution model?

We represent demand for skills as a percentage of job postings that match your search criteria. We also provide the annualized growth rate for each skill, which assumes the same rate of growth across a four-year period.

More about skills evolution:

Why can’t I change the date range for the model?
The skills evolution model uses data from the past four years in order to pick up on specific types of changes in demand, many of which appear over the course of years. Looking at a longer time period allows us to create more nuanced and accurate definitions for each of the growth patterns.

Why are categories blank when I search all locations or all employers?

In our model, broad searches are more likely to return blank categories than searches focused on specific locations or employers. This is because significant changes in aggregates (like all employers and all locations) often occur slowly, over time periods greater than four years. In contrast, one specific employer or metropolitan area can change quickly, and these types of changes are more likely to meet the criteria for our categories.

What is the difference between hard and soft skills?

All skills in our system are categorized either as hard or soft skills. Hard skills are typically tools, technologies, and subject matter knowledge, while soft skills are typically occupational traits, like “hardworking”, and work requirements, like “ability to travel.” By default, we display hard and soft skills together, though you can adjust the results to show only hard skills.

Why am I seeing a skill in the results that doesn't align with my search?

The skills you see are those found in job postings that match your search criteria. You may want to make sure the filters you’ve applied (like function and occupation) are relevant to your role.

There may also be instances where our system mistakenly identifies a word phrase from a job description as a skill. Often, this content comes from the sections of the job posting that discuss the company and its values, the job benefits, or advancement potential. We are working on solutions to identify and isolate these parts of job descriptions and remove these false positives from our database. In the meantime, please feel free to report erroneous skills by emailing TNSupport@gartner.com.