Accenture: Workers Under Pressure To Improve Skills, Need More Support

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The majority (55 per cent) of workers in the U.S. report they are under pressure to develop additional skills to be successful in their current and future jobs, but only 21 per cent say they have acquired new skills through company-provided formal training during the past five years, according to a study by Accenture.

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

The study also found that more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of workers believe it is primarily their own responsibility, rather than their employer’s responsibility, to update their skills. However, only 53 per cent of unemployed workers report they understand which skills are likely to be in demand in the next five years, compared to 80 per cent of employed workers.

The study suggests that employers may be hindered by not be having a complete picture of all of the skills they have within their organization to handle specific jobs. Just over half (53 per cent) of respondents said their employers document their skills, but more than a third (38 per cent) said their employers look only at specific job experience and education to match employees to jobs rather than looking at all of their talents and capabilities.

Limited ability to shift employees to different jobs within their organizations may also be preventing companies from fully utilizing their workers’ skills. Only one-third (34 per cent) of respondents report that it is easy to move to another job within their company where their skills would best be utilized, and slightly less than half of respondents (49 per cent) report that their employer does a good job of providing a clear understanding of the skills needed for different roles and career paths.   More than one-third (36 per cent) of workers say that they would be willing to move to another location where demand for their skills is strongest or where their skills could be put to better use.

Career path choices also are contributing to the skills gap, according to the study. Nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of all workers say they’ve had to change careers at least once in order to meet the challenges of the job market. However, only 28 per cent report that they had an understanding of the skills required in their new career before making a change.

Strategies for addressing the skills gap 

Accenture has identified six strategies for companies tackling the skills gap:

  • Don’t wait for talent to find you–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 resume.
  • Mine your own organization 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 programs 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.