The skill of skilling yourself

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What skills will your job need in five years time? You may think the question ought to be 'what skills will you need to do your job in five years time' but, if a new poll is anything to go by, half the people around you in the office may no longer be doing the job they're doing simply because its requirements will have changed and they won't have done anything (or enough) to change in response. Just hope you're not part of that half.

None of us like to think we might be getting old, or entrenched or unable to change and develop, but a poll by recruitment firm Hays has argued that, in a rapidly changing working environment, sitting back and expecting to be able just to continue using the skills you already have is not going to cut it in the future.

Moreover, sitting back and waiting for your friendly employer to spend time and money updating your skills for you may soon be as outdated as, well, fax machines.

The poll of 500 private sector workers found more than half did not know, or were unsure about, the skills employers were likely to be demanding in the next five years.

Nearly six out of 10 were worried the skills required for their current roles were already changing, with just under half equally concerned their current skill-set will be insufficient to meet employers expectations in five years time.

A total of 61% complained their current employer was not doing enough to invest in their skills.

Yet almost half conceded primary responsibility for updating skills should actually fall to them rather than their employer, relevant professional bodies or the government.

Despite this, nearly four out of 10 admitted they were not taking any action to remedy this shortfall themselves.

And even those that were still might not have been doing enough. Six out of 10 said the only action they were taking was staying up-to-date with trends through trade magazines and seminars. Only around a third were looking to obtain relevant qualifications or considering enrolling on courses to enhance specialist skills.

Charles Logan, director at Hays, said: "Many employers have understandably been focusing on immediate survival and agility over recent years, and our research indicates that they may themselves be unsure about the skills they will require in years to come. If they can gain an understanding of this and communicate what they will need it will help employees to work towards building their skill sets in the right direction.

"But, employees also need to start taking ownership of their career. Many sectors are still experiencing skills shortages, with employers unable to fill key positions. To take advantage of these vacancies, jobseekers should invest in their future by developing skills that are needed by businesses.

"They cannot rely on their employer to keep their skills and experience sufficiently suited to changing markets. They will need to talk to experts in the field and undertake their own research to find out what skills are needed now and in the future," he added.

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