Employees Focus on Upgrading Skills in Uncertain Job Market

47% worry they will be out of a job within 5 years
A woman watching an online tutorial

With job uncertainty high among workers amid the pandemic, many are looking for ways to upgrade their skills in case they find themselves out of work in the near future, a new survey suggests.

Automation software company UiPath conducted a survey of workers across the world to gauge how they feel about their professional skills and job prospects. The survey revealed that for nearly half of employees, the concept of long-term job security is a fantasy, as 47% worry they will be out of a job within five years because their proficiencies will no longer match the needs of their workplace. In the U.S. alone, 53% of workers believe their current skills will become outdated in less than five years.

Taking a proactive approach

Throughout the pandemic, job security has been one of the leading contributors to increasing economic anxiety among consumers. However, workers are thinking up ways to improve their future job prospects.

Most respondents to the UiPath survey want their current employers to provide more training:

  • 86% said they wish their employer provided opportunities for them to gain new skills
  • 83% said they wish their employer gave them the chance to build upon their current skills

Such opportunities would have a positive effect not just on workers, but on companies as well, respondents said. Among U.S. respondents, nine in 10 admitted that they would feel more secure in their current jobs if their employers provided them with opportunities for training. Additionally, 78% said they would be more productive at their jobs given additional training, so employers would benefit, too.

Employers who provide training might also benefit from increased employee loyalty. The survey found that 88% of global respondents would be more willing to keep working for a company that provided opportunities to learn new skills and enhance existing skills.

Respondents also recognize the impact that increased training could have on their long-term earning potential. In fact, 63% of U.S.-based respondents who have already had skills training at work said they saw opportunities open up within their organizations after the training. Also, 58% said their pay and work responsibilities both increased after they took advantage of such training opportunities.

Workers intimidated by do-it-yourself learning

Nothing is stopping workers from improving their skills on their own. In fact, many workers have a sizable collection of online resources and other courses available to choose from. However, the survey suggests that many workers aren’t planning to do that.

Among global respondents, 58% said they feel “somewhat” or “strongly” intimidated by the idea of having to learn a new technology. In the U.S., the percentage of workers who feel “somewhat” or “strongly” intimidated by do-it-yourself learning is even higher, at 68%.

Interestingly, younger workers were more intimidated by the idea of learning how to use new technologies than their older counterparts, the survey found. Among global respondents between the ages of 18 to 23, 43% said they were intimidated to learn a new technology compared with 10% of respondents over the age of 56.

Methodology: New York-based automation software company UiPath surveyed 4,500 office workers in the U.S., France, Germany, India, Singapore and the U.K. in February and March 2020. The survey included 2,000 workers from the U.S.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.