UK’s employers and technologists divided on approaches to skill development

A new report released today revealed that although technology leaders understand the importance of continuous learning and upskilling, fundamental differences exist that can hinder skills development, and thus, company growth.

The Upskilling report by the enterprise technology skills platform Pluralsight, compiled survey results from 1,500 enterprise technology leaders and learners in the United States and Europe. The report

The study found that although most companies provide opportunities to employees to develop technology skills, a large percentage of programmes don’t meet employee needs. While 92% of the UK’s technology workforce reported that upskilling programmes were offered at their current employer, the report finds divides between leaders and learners and identifies key barriers to upskilling.

Collaboration is key

Half of UK technologists (50%) want to collaborate with their employer to improve their tech skills. However, there remains some disconnect between the preferred learning practices of employees and what is provided by the company they work for. In fact, the top three preferred methods of learning for technologists include self-paced online courses (20%), online instructor led-training (20%) and project-based learning (17%). Despite this, over a quarter (26%) of companies are still prioritising in-person workshops and classes.

According to the study, lack of time is one of the biggest barriers, with a fifth (21%) of technologists claiming that other demands prevent their learning efforts. But clearly, employers are trying to accommodate this, with 90% of employees reporting that their company does encourage the use of work time for tech skills development.

Looking into employees’ learning styles, there doesn’t appear to be a one-size-fits all approach, highlighting the need for companies to develop training programmes for individual needs, with the most popular IT learning tactics including:

  • Skilling-up Learners: avid, enthusiastic learner who aims to expand their skill-set and climb the career ladder (30%)
  • Project-specific Learners: longer-term, continuous learning for a project or requirement (28%)
  • Micro Learners: short bursts of learning for an immediate project or requirement (16%)

Sean Farrington, SVP EMEA, Pluralsight comments: “Now is the perfect time for people to combat the increasing pressure they are facing to upskill. We are grappling with a new business reality but online, on-demand learning platforms can help to bring a semblance of normality to the working lives of so many, keeping them engaged, focused and connected in a period where they may have more downtime.

“As businesses slowly begin to return their operations to normal, skill development is what will set them apart from their competitors, providing substantial return on investment. Pushing the online learning agenda now will cement some certainty, amidst the trials ahead.”

Popularity vs risk 

Nearly all those surveyed (98%) are confident they will have the necessary skills to master their job three years’ down the line. And as cloud technology increasingly becomes the bedrock of modern digital transformation programmes, the results reflect a desire for the UK’s technologists to keep pace with this innovation curve. Cloud management (17%) emerged as the leading technology of choice for workers to upskill in over the next twelve months, ahead of other skills including Coding & Programming (15%), AI (11%), IoT (10%) and Big Data (10%).

Despite the ever-present threat of cyberattacks, just 10% have improved their security skills using online platforms in the past twelve months. Furthermore, with just 16% of UK respondents hoping to develop security management skills in the next twelve months, it is clear there needs to be a renewed focus on equipping the technologists of tomorrow to deal with increasingly complex cyber threats.


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