March 2021
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TD Magazine

Reskilling Needs and Opportunities Vary by Country

Monday, March 1, 2021

Workers around the world say the pandemic has increased their need for new skills but not their ability to gain them.

It's been one year since the COVID-19 pandemic upended almost every aspect of society, including how we work and the skills we need to do our jobs successfully. With so many employees around the world facing redeployment, furloughs, or layoffs, building new skills is more important than ever before, but those opportunities are harder to come by.

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For its The State of Skills 2021: Endangered research report, Degreed surveyed more than 5,200 people around the world to assess how global events have affected workforce skills. Six in 10 respondents reported that the economic upheaval the pandemic caused has accelerated their need to acquire new skills. Responses varied by country, with a little more than one-third of respondents in the US and UK, more than half in Mexico and Brazil, and three-quarters of respondents in India sharing that sentiment. Employees' role and industry also affected how likely they were to agree that they need new skills, with those in technology and telecommunications in highest agreement.

At the same time, Degreed found that 46 percent of employees globally agreed that their employers have reduced upskilling and reskilling opportunities during the pandemic. Once again, there was variation in employees' responses to this question based on their country, industry, and role. In many cases, those who saw the need for upskilling were also the ones who were most likely to report reduced upskilling opportunities.

The combination of needing new skills to do their jobs but lacking the opportunity to acquire them is understandably making employees feel vulnerable, with almost half reporting that they think their core job skills will be obsolete within five years. Employees in the US, France, and Australia are least concerned about their core job skills becoming obsolete in 12 months, while employees in Brazil and India are most concerned. Across the board, advanced IT and programming, leadership and management, as well as communication and negotiation skills ranked as the most in demand. As employers reflect on 2020 and begin to focus on recovery, they should prioritize giving employees opportunities to upskill.

About the Author

Eliza Blanchard, APTD, is ATD's Learning & Development content manager. Contact her at eblanchard@td.org.