Workers need more employer support to boost skills – study

17 Nov 2011

The pressure to develop additional skills for career success affects 55pc of workers, but only 21pc say they have gained new skills through company-provided formal training during the past five years, a US study released by Accenture suggests.

The Accenture Skills Gap Study, which surveyed 1,088 employed and unemployed workers, found more than half (52pc) of workers have gained technology skills in the past five years, but few have updated other in-demand skills, such as problem solving (31pc), analytical skills (26pc) and managerial skills (21pc).

The study also found 68pc of workers believe it is primarily their own responsibility, rather than their employer’s responsibility, to update their skills. 

However, only 53pc of unemployed workers report they understand which skills are likely to be in demand in the next five years, compared to 80pc of employed workers.

“There is an escalating talent crisis and employers should not assume that workers have the resources or knowledge to acquire all the skills they will need," said David Smith, managing director, Accenture Talent & Organization

“Our study shows that workers are prepared to improve and expand their skills, but they’re not receiving sufficient support to develop those skills. In addition to investing in training, employers will have to become more transparent about their talent requirements and more creative about leveraging the skills they already have within their organisations.”

So what’s stopping employers from supporting employees’ upskilling?

It may be down to employers’ lacking a full picture of all the skills they have within their organisation to handle specific jobs, as well as a limited ability to move employees to different jobs within their organisations, the study suggests.

“Many employers have hidden talent in their organisations that they haven’t effectively tapped,” said Smith.

Tips for employers on addressing the skills gap:

  • Proactively seek the talent you need and use analytics to pre-screen candidates using a rich array of data rather than strictly experience and education listed in a CV.
  • Mine your own organisation for hidden talent by identifying the skills in your existing workforce in a searchable skills database, creating an open and fluid talent market, and establishing programmes and incentives that foster internal talent mobility.
  • Define job requirements according to the functional skills required to perform the job and balance that definition with the notion of “developable” fit when selecting candidates.
  • Make learning new skills an integrated component of work.
  • Redesign work to suit existing skills and to more fluidly deploy skills based on demand.
  • Make skills requirements transparent to employees, educational institutions, and the broader community.

Source: Accenture

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