Furloughed workers look to tech reskilling, with job loss fears rampant

By Lucy Ingham

The majority of furloughed workers in the UK are worried that they will not have a job this time next year, causing many to look to technology skills to improve their future employment prospects.

This is according to research by the Google.org-funded Good Things Foundation, which found that 70% of furloughed workers fear they will be out of a job in the next 12 months. Only 42% believe they will still have a job with the same salary in six months.

This is understandably causing over half to become anxious about the situation, which many taking steps to improve their chances of finding work in a recession economy.

67% are “keen” to learn new skills, while 45% have already begun the process of job hunting.

Notably, however, the skills that furloughed workers are focusing on largely centre around technology.

Tech skills lead learning focus for furloughed workers

Out of the top five skills that furloughed workers are focusing on, three relate to technology.

The most popular, at 27%, is standard office and administration skills, relating to word processing, spreadsheets and emails.

Social media skills are in second place, at 22%, while in fifth place are IT skills (16%) relating to job hunting, such as effective use of job boards and formatting CVs.

The non-IT skills in the top five are communications (20%) and management (17%).

While some of these tech skills may seem relatively basic, they reflect the concerns of people who may be faced with moving job or industry for the first time in a considerable period.

Good Things Foundation has responded to this need by compiling free learning tools, including courses, tools and templates, on the site Make It Click.

“This is a stressful time for many people, but the uncertainty furloughed workers are facing is causing them significant stress and hardship,” said Helen Milner, chief executive of Good Things Foundation.

“It’s common for people who have been in the same job or industry for some time to be comfortable using the software or digital tools they need for their current role. However, if they’re missing out on other aspects of digital know-how they’re at a huge disadvantage when job hunting, as we know 82% of all job vacancies require digital skills.

“While learning new things online might feel intimidating, our research shows most people pick things up quickly. Three quarters of people who had to learn new digital skills since lockdown said their overall experience had been easy.”

Read more: 25 best jobs in the UK for 2020 topped by tech role

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