50% of UK technologists want to collaborate with employers to boost digital skills

The State of Upskilling report also found that a large portion of programmes don’t meet employee demands

Half of UK technologists desire greater levels of collaboration with their employer to elevate digital skills, a new report has revealed.

The State of Upskilling report by enterprise technology skills platform Pluralsight surveyed results from 1,500 enterprise tech leaders and learners in the US and Europe. Though the report confirms that tech leaders acknowledge the importance of continuing professional development (CPD) and upskilling, it highlights the existing discrepancy that hampers skills development and, subsequently, company growth.

While 92% of the UK’s digital workforce claimed that upskilling opportunities were available with their current employer, the report reveals a disconnect between industry leaders and learners, identifying the challenges that hinder long-term business development.

The study found that 50% of UK technologists feel collaboration with employers could help to improve tech skills, while simultaneously uncovering a disparity between the favoured learning practices of employees and what is offered by the company they work for. Self-paced online programmes are the preferred learning method among technologists (20%), alongside online instructor-led training (20%), followed by project-based learning (17%).

Despite these clear preferences, however, more than a quarter (26%) of businesses still prioritise in-person workshops and classes.

The study reveals a lack of time to be one of the biggest barriers for tech skills development, with a fifth (21%) of technologists claiming that other demands set back their progression. But employers are clearly trying to take note and adapt, with 90% of employees reporting that their company encourages digital skills development during working hours.

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As with education generally, there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to employee learning styles, reflecting the need for companies to adopt diverse training approaches which can be tailored to specific needs. The most common types of professional learning styles include:

      • Skilling-up learners: avid, enthusiastic learners who wish to expand their skillsets and make their way up the career ladder (30%)
      • Project-specific learners: longer-term continuous learning for a particular project or requirement (28%)
      • Micro-learners: prefer learning in short bursts for an immediate project or requirement (16%)


Surprisingly, almost all of the participants surveyed (98%) are confident they will have the skills needed to thrive in their role in three years’ time, and as the impact of cloud technologies rise, UK technologists are eager to keep pace with this innovation curve. Cloud management (17%) emerged as the most popular choice for upskilling workers in the next 12 months, ahead of other digital skills such as coding and programming (15%), AI (11%), IoT (10%) and big data (10%).

Desite the growing threat of cyberattacks, just 10% of respondents had committed to improving their security skills via an online platform in the last year. Furthermore, with only 16% of respondents hoping to develop security management expertise in the next 12 months, the need for renewed focus on cybersecurity skills is paramount.

“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 have more downtime,” said Sean Farrington, senior vice-president EMEA of Pluralsight.

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

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