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Workers feel unprepared for digital future

Businesses, the government and educational institutions should work together to ensure employees have the right skills

A third (37%) of UK workers fear they won't be able to get a job in the future if they don't acquire further skills to keep up with technology, new research has revealed.

The research, conducted by YouGov on behalf of Salesforce UK, found that workers, jobseekers and students are concerned about the risk technology poses to their job prospects.

More than half (54%) of those in work, full-time education or seeking employment in the 18- to 24-year-old age bracket cited concern that they won’t be able to get a future job if they don’t develop new technical skills, with the figure rising to 60% among full-time students.

Concern was also high among those who have reached high levels of education. Almost half (48%) of adults with a Masters degree or PhD believe this to be a risk, followed by undergraduate (Bachelors degree) students at 43%.

Despite these concerns, up to 63% of employees said they feel the development of technological skills would benefit their companies' overall efficiency. Of the groups surveyed, 18- to 24-year-olds were most likely to believe technology skills could improve their organisations, with 69% stating they could help, compared with just 53% of respondents aged 55 and above.

However, the research found that employees felt these skills were not being adequately taught through traditional education or in the workplace. It revealed 32% of middle managers were never taught technology or digital skills while in full-time education, and 27% of UK workers didn’t believe that the opportunities currently offered by employers were adequate to keep their skills up to date throughout their working lives.

Andrew Lawson, EVP and general manager UK and Ireland at Salesforce, said that businesses, policymakers and educators must work together to make sure people are equipped with the right technical skills.

"Businesses, the government and education institutions have a combined responsibility to help employees mitigate the risks and realise the benefits that come with the fourth Industrial Revolution. This requires a fundamental transformation of what we consider to be ‘education’,” he said.

“Shifting to a model of continuous lifelong learning is essential when the pace of technological advancements is rapidly increasing. Employers can play their part by recognising other forms of learning and experience equally, alongside more traditional paths, and support their staff to embrace ongoing training and education.

“This way businesses can ensure that fair opportunities are provided to people across the UK, while building a diverse team that is best placed to support the workplace of the future.”