edX Survey Finds That Nearly Half of Consumers Are Not Comfortable Asking Their Employer to Contribute to Additional Learning Costs

Reskilling has become a clear necessity for the future of work, but it remains uncertain who is responsible for addressing this challenge

edX.org, the trusted platform for learning, announced the results of a consumer survey around trends related to reskilling. The survey found that more than one third (37%) of respondents have experienced a lack of proficiency in at least one new skill area or subject area of a current or past job, but that almost half (40%) also don’t feel comfortable asking their employer for help with paying for a learning solution. And yet, it is still unclear from survey respondents whose responsibility it is to ensure that workers are prepared for the jobs of the future.

The fourth industrial revolution is here, and as technology continues to evolve, employees must continue to reskill to keep up with the shifting demands of their job. In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, 1.4 million US jobs alone are expected to be disrupted by technology and other factors between now and 2026. Workers are struggling to remain relevant – according to a 2018 edX survey, only a fifth of people consider their education from their college major to be translatable to their current field.

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Specifically, the survey findings indicate two major skill areas where consumers are lacking. The biggest gap is in the data sciences — a skillset that, as technology becomes more and more prominent across industries, no longer just applies in one context. In fact, 39% of people reported feeling less than proficient in data skills with an emphasis on analytics and computer science — and a quarter (24%) of respondents have had to ask an outside resource, such as a significant other, child or grandchild, how to work with a technology that their company uses. The second skillset with the largest gap is business skills and soft skills, including project management and leadership, with over a third of consumers reporting that they feel that they are lacking in this area.

A lack of skills in these two major areas indicates that advances in technology are impacting the workplace and creating the need for new types of skills, which often go beyond a traditional college education. That said, according to the survey, respondents are split between who should be responsible for making sure that they are prepared for the jobs of the future with the right skills — 41% feel it is an individual’s responsibility; 33% feel it’s an employer’s responsibility; 16% believe it’s higher education’s responsibility; and 9% believe it’s up to the government.

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“The skills gap is a challenge that goes far beyond job creation and training and development — it touches on a broader social responsibility that companies have to their employees and the communities in which they operate,” said Adam Medros, President and COO, edX. “At edX, our mission is to remove the barriers — time, cost and location — to the highest quality education in in-demand fields. Our belief is that these offerings make it easier for individuals to pursue their lifelong learning journeys, and for corporations to invest in their talent and local communities.”

Whether it be individuals changing careers or employers helping workers keep pace with evolving demands, non-traditional education, including online programs like the MicroMasters program, provide a cost-efficient, flexible solution for those looking to reskill. In fact, receiving a certificate after completing an online program in a specific field can be just as valuable as pursuing an on-campus degree. Survey respondents reported the same perception of competence whether a professional has a full degree or microcredential on their resume.

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