Tech workers not getting the upskilling they need in the pandemic, report says

Tech cited as a highly impacted and at-risk industry, with an extreme need to upskill employees at every level, according to a new global report from Degreed.

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Image: iStock/Radachynskyi

While technology has had some of the strongest resilience job-wise during the pandemic, it is an industry in a constant state of improvement; so much so, that no sooner is the latest version of a device released to the public, it quickly becomes obsolete. Newly released data confirms the rapid progression of technology by conclusion that the key way to economically recover from the pandemic is upskilling. Business investments in developing skills hasn't kept up with the growing demand for new skills during the COVID-19 shut down.

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The tech industry in particular has been tagged as an industry with not enough talent, as well as talent who haven't been offered enough opportunities to garner more skills, critical in order to succeed in the industry. The Degreed report, The State of Skills: Endangered Skills 2021 is geared toward a variety of businesses but focuses on the need for upskilling investments in the areas that will be the most effective and most likely to benefit the various enterprises and employees. And, one prominent area in which skills aren't being updated as frequently as necessary is the technology industry.

Getting necessary skills to keep relevant

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Percentages of industries in need of upskilling.

Image: Degreed

Keeping up on the latest developments, getting certifications, going back to school, and attending seminars have been the stalwarts for earning the proverbial gold-star and impressing the bosses at work. Even at the height of the lockdowns, free courses were offered to introduce or refresh tech for the most in-demand skills. 

The most in-demand skills for 2021, cited the new data, are advanced IT and programming, the most desired skills employees across the globe want. Coming in seventh was advanced data analysis and maths skills, and 10th was tech design and engineering

 "A lack of skills doesn't just impact productivity and reduce companies' ability to innovate," said Sarah Danzl, head of global communications and PR at Degreed. "It demotivates the workforce and lowers engagement."

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Image: Degreed

The COVID-19 pandemic's impact on job skills

Degreed surveyed 5,208 workers in eight global markets (US, Brazil, Mexico, UK, France, Germany, India, Australia) to reveal the pandemic's impact on job skills. In reviewing the state of the tech industry, it found that a whopping 77% of tech workers blame COVID-19 as an accelerant to acquire new skills, 35% of IT professionals believe their skills will become obsolete in the next 12 months, 50% of tech workers said the coronavirus made their job more stressful, and 38% said their mental health is suffering.

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Image: Degreed

The coronavirus crisis contributed heavily to the current state of economic uncertainty and the demand for new skills across all industries affected 60% of workers, the new report said. Nearly half (46%) of businesses reduced upskilling opportunities in the past six months.

 More than one-third of workers feel less confident they have the skills to do their jobs well (compared to pre-pandemic). Close to half (46%) predict their current skills "will die out" in the next three to five years. The result is an increase in stress levels, which then affects productivity and performance, resulting in a negative impact on the business.

Because of concerns for their lacking skills, 55% surveyed said they're more stressed, 41% said it takes them longer to finish work now, 22% admitted their work standard has lowered. Another 46% of global workers said if their employers didn't offer them opportunities to upskill, they were likely to leave their job.

Global facts on job upskilling

Six-in-ten workers, managers and business leaders feel the pressure to upskill and reskill and cite COVID-19 as accelerating a process for which they were not quite prepared.

The industries most at risk for lack of skills to meet current market demand are technology, telecom, finance, and engineering. 

The three top countries "most at risk of skills mismatch" are India, France, and Brazil.

The most endangered skills are those who work in IT and HR (human resources).

In the US, 36% polled said COVID-19 accelerated the need to acquire new skills; 37% in the UK, 56% in Mexico, 39% in France, 41% in Germany, 47% in Brazil, 42% in Australia, and 72% in India.

Also in the US, 44% said if their employer doesn't invest in them for upskilling, they are likely to leave their job; 41% in the UK, 45% in Mexico, 48% in France, 36% in Germany, 62% in Brazil, 45% in Australia, and 64% in India.

COVID-19 is endangering workforce skills, accelerating the need for new skills, reducing opportunities for upskilling and reskilling and making the workforce more stressed and vulnerable. 

Danzl said, "Organizations are balancing many initiatives during this turbulent time so the data in the report is meant to help companies focus their limited energy and investments on developing the skills they need most."

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Image: Degreed

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By N.F. Mendoza

N.F. Mendoza is a writer at TechRepublic and based in Los Angeles. She has a BA in Broadcast Journalism and Cinema Critical Studies and a Master's of Professional Writing, both from USC. Nadine has more than 20 years experience as a journalist coveri...