Workers missing out on upskilling opportunities

Two in five fear their jobs will be obsolete within five years: survey

Workers missing out on upskilling opportunities

Sixty per cent of workers globally are worried that automation is putting many jobs at risk, and 39 per cent think it’s likely that their job will be obsolete within five years.

And while workers are eager to improve their digital skills, only 40 per cent have successfully done so amid the pandemic, according to a report from PwC.

"If current patterns in access to training persist, upskilling will increase social inequality when it should be doing precisely the opposite," says Bhushan Sethi, joint global leader of PwC's people and organization practice. "Government and business leaders need to work together to intensify efforts to ensure people in the most-at risk industries and groups get the opportunities they need. Automation and technological disruption are inevitable, but we can control whether its negative effects are managed or not."

Sixty-one per cent feel that their government should act to protect jobs, according to PwC’s survey of 32,517 respondents globally, conducted earlier in 2021.

Women and men both face the risk of automation in the workplace dating back to 2016, but their risk levels differ, according to a 2020 study by Statistics Canada.

Barriers to upskilling

More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of workers are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain while 74 per cent see training as a matter of personal responsibility. Eighty per cent are confident they can adapt to new technologies entering their workplace.

However, 50 per cent of workers say they’ve faced discrimination at work, which led to them missing out on career advancement or training. Why? Age (22 per cent) is the biggest reason. Specifically, younger people are twice as likely as older people to get opportunities to improve skills, finds PwC.

People also say that gender (14 per cent), race and ethnicity (13 per cent), social class or background (13 per cent), caring responsibility (10 per cent), religious beliefs (seven per cent), sexual orientation (six per cent) and disability (five per cent) are reasons they missed out.

Also, 46 per cent of people with postgraduate degrees say their employer gives them opportunities to improve their digital skills, compared with just 28 per cent of people with school-leaver qualifications.

Employers are also concerned about the availability of key skills in the economy, according to another PwC report.

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