UK workforce unprepared and unskilled for future of work

30 per cent of UK workers believe they lack the skills needed in today’s workplace. Questionmark, the online assessment provider, surveyed the UK workforce against the skills identified by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

The survey identified the disconnect between the skills needed in the future and the current confidence levels amongst UK workers. It also highlighted the areas where inadequate training and support are holding workers back.

Out of the top 10 skills that businesses will need by 2025, only three were confidently possessed by over half the UK workforce – problem-solving, critical thinking, and resilience. Some of the skills are particularly low:

  • Only 13% of respondents believe that they are capable of technology design and programming
  • 35% have sufficient ‘leadership and social influence’ skills
  • 37% are confident in technology use, monitoring, and control
  • 45% have ‘creativity, originality, and initiative’

According to the WEF Future of Jobs report, half of us will need to reskill in the next five years, as the ‘double-disruption’ of the economic impacts of the pandemic and increasing automation transforming jobs takes hold.

Technology skills have been identified as crucial to the future job market, yet this is an area where the UK is performing badly, according to the survey. Alongside the low confidence in technology, the terms that most confused respondents were often tech-related: Big Data (31%) and Digital Transformation (21%).

John Kleeman, Founder of Questionmark said, “do we think we’re better than we are, or are we better than we think? That’s the question that we need to help businesses to answer so that we can see what skills we’ve got and where training and development are needed. It’s clear there is work to be done.”

The survey also highlighted some differences between workers. Women are far less likely to consider they have leadership skills (38% vs 44% of men), while those aged 18-24 are far less passionate about their work compared to all other ages (33% vs 47% of 25-55+).

Given the skills gap, organisations need to commit to relevant training and development programmes for employees. Yet the survey found that 66 per cent of respondents felt that training was not relevant to their role, 13 per cent even said it seemed random and unplanned. More worryingly, 24 per cent of respondents said they were too embarrassed at work to ask for support, while 42 per cent preferred to find out how to do something for themselves, which points to cultural changes needed to help employees be more effective.

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