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Research: Employees fear becoming obsolete due to outdated skillsets

Almost half of office workers from around the world are concerned they will lose their jobs within fives years due to an outdated skillset, new research has found. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software company, UiPath, found that due to this concern, 86% of respondents wish their employer offered opportunities to acquire new skills (reskilling), while 83% say they wish their employer gave them more opportunities to enhance their current skills (upskilling).

According to UiPath, the survey was designed to understand how office workers around the world believe technology is changing valued skillsets, whether they have opportunities to upskill and reskill, and how training opportunities impact job satisfaction and perceived job security. The survey of 4,500 office workers, conducted in February and March 2020, uncovered that nearly all (91%) of office workers believe their employers should be more willing to invest in digital and technology skills training for their employees.

The findings found that without reskilling and upskilling opportunities, employees fear becoming obsolete.

A full third of office workers globally fear their current roles will advance past their current skills, and 25% worry about losing their job due to automation. Most office workers (83%) globally would feel more secure in their job if their employer offered opportunities to learn new skills.

Formal training could help lessen employee anxiety about learning to use new digital tools on their own, UiPath says. According to the survey, 58% of global respondents feel somewhat to strongly intimidated when they need to learn how to use a new technology, and in the U.S. that number jumps to 68%. Surprisingly, the younger an office worker is, the more intimidated they are to learn to use new technologies. Forty-three percent of 18-23-year-olds worldwide say they are intimidated to learn a new technology, while only 10% of those over the age of 56 are intimidated.

The survey found employees believe they will be more productive and satisfied at work through skills training.

Eighty percent of workers globally believe they would be more productive if they learned new skills. In addition to driving greater business outputs, employees who receive skills training are generally more inclined to stay at their jobs; 88% of workers say they would be more willing to continue working at a company that offered upskilling and reskilling opportunities.

Among workers globally who were provided training at work, they cited increased responsibilities, more opportunities, and increased pay as the top benefits of upskilling and reskilling opportunities.

According to the research, employees yearn to learn automation and are willing to take skills training into their own hands.

Data analytics is the most coveted skill globally and in the U.S., demand for automation, machine learning (ML), and AI skills are on the rise, UiPath says. Twenty-two percent of office workers worldwide say they are interested in acquiring RPA skills, acknowledging that automation could boost productivity, save time, and enable a better work/life balance. This interest is even higher for office workers based in the U.S., with 30% of Americans sharing that they are interested in acquiring RPA skills, and 87% sharing they are interested in learning ML and AI skills.

 Eighty-three percent of workers worldwide, and 87% of workers in the U.S., also say they are interested in learning about ML and AI. Seventy-eight percent globally note that ML/AI skills could benefit their career.

To date, for workers who are not being taught new skills at work, many have taken training into their own hands, the survey found. Fifty-nine percent of office workers have taken a class or taught themselves a new skill in their personal time to use at their job. In the U.S., people are getting trained on RPA just as often as they are a new language.

"Now more than ever, digital skillsets are necessary," says Tom Clancy, SVP UiPath Learning. 

"Employers need to provide their employees with new training initiatives so they can best leverage technology like automation so they're more productive and satisfied in their careers," he says. 

"Fifty-eight percent of office workers believe there are more opportunities for them to automate daily, monotonous tasks at work. Employers should offer digital training as part of career development initiatives as it is proven to enhance retention and boost business productivity."