UK workforce unprepared and unskilled for the future of work

John Kleeman, Founder of Questionmark

30% of UK workers believe they lack the skills needed in today’s workplace. We know the skills gap is a problem here in the US – new research from the United Kingdom highlights that organizations need to commit to relevant training and development to solve this problem.

What were Questionmark’s findings?

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 3 were possessed by half the UK workforce – problem solving, critical thinking and resilience. Some of the skills are low:

  • Only 13% of respondents believe that they are capable in tech 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. Tech skills have been identified as crucial to the future job market, yet it is an area where the UK is performing badly, according to the study.

Alongside the low confidence in tech, 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 is needed. It’s clear there is work to be done.”

What is the state of upskilling in the UK workplace?

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

Questionmark’s report into the priorities and barriers to skills development shows that firms need to implement training and assessment to reinforce skills, give workers opportunities to put them into use and assess how they are performing and what future training is needed.

You can read the Questionmark report today.