Main image of article Poor Training, Lack of Skills Leave Older Workers Behind: Study

A new study from Docebo suggests professionals across the world want to learn skills to help them at work... but the training just isn’t there.

Baby Boomers are most affected: 40 percent of older pros in the United Kingdom and 28 percent in the U.S. feel they “don’t have the skills needed to win a new job.” When asked to compare themselves to younger professionals, nearly half of all Baby Boomers felt those younger than them had better tech skills.

It’s not imagined, either. Professionals don’t feel they’re getting training. From Docebo:

Modern workers are feeling the pressure to skill-up, with one in three working Americans (32 percent) and working Brits (33 percent) saying they feel pressure to learn new tech-related skills to protect their jobs. Nearly half (49 percent) of workers in both countries believe training in using new technology would help them increase their chances of a promotion or raise. However, one in four working Americans (21 percent) and Brits (22 percent) don’t feel they have the necessary tech skill sets to position themselves as an experienced candidate for a new role.

Though this study isn’t unique to tech professionals, it doesn’t exclude them – and there are similar findings within tech. We routinely see that skills and pay are linked, with some unique skills adding thousands of dollars to your annual income.

But randomly learning skills doesn't always put you ahead. A HackerRank study shows traditional education has a deep skills gap; students often learn older languages in the classroom, but not the skills and frameworks employers actually need.

You can always learn on your own, but that comes with its own set of red flags and challenges. We’ve identified many platforms that do a good job, but just as many websites (as well as bootcamps or vocational schools) have questionable results in terms of prepping professionals for the workplace.

And there’s also a catch-22 with learning new skills, at least for employers. Results from a Dice Insights survey detail how employees want to learn new skills more than anything. But they also want to quit their jobs after learning those skills. The investment by an employer may lead to professionals vacating their positions as a result of obtaining new abilities and being better prepared for the jobs market.

Skills Gap

Apple CEO Tim Cook famously lauded skills over education, but it’s not as easy as it sounds for tech professionals (especially older ones) to get what they need in terms of education and training, especially if the skills in question aren't well-established. For example, Golang is a top-paying tech skill in 2019, but it’s relatively new.

Another survey shows even “old” skills like DevOps and Python are increasingly in-demand from employers. That suggests companies aren’t finding (for instance) Python developers who meet their requirements; nor are they investing in additional training. That's bad news for older tech professionals who have the aptitude to learn, but aren't being served adequately by their employers.

Ideally, employers should be investing in talent so deeply it creates a ‘snake eating its own tail’ scenario, where the result is a ton of super-skilled pros who end up teaching others. Instead, tech professionals are left to fend for themselves... and it’s affecting older professionals harshly.