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Dismissed workers packing their belongings and leaving the office (© StockPhotoPro - stock.adobe.com)

NEW YORK — Is a surge in unemployment just around the corner? Automation and continuing economic uncertainty have a quarter of American workers feeling the pressure at their place of work – and worrying that their jobs may disappear this year.

The new survey of 2,000 employed adults examined how workers see themselves in their current roles, finding that many believe they’ll receive a pink slip sooner rather than later. Their concerns stem from distress about the job market (25%) and knowing that they work in an unstable business or industry (22%).

Respondents also face challenges keeping up with their professions: 32 percent are worried that they’re falling behind or lack the skills they need to be successful. This may be because 55 percent of all respondents feel like they’ve been doing the same job for years, and a similar percentage admitted that their skill set feels outdated (54%).

Conducted by OnePoll for CSU Global, the survey also found that many workers think it’s time for a refresh, with a majority of employed Americans in the survey saying they graduated from school in the 2000s or earlier (64%). Nine in 10 believe it’s important to prioritize learning new skills as a professional to advance your career, and 74 percent are interested in making themselves more valuable to their employers.

A majority of those surveyed are interested in upskilling at their current job (78%). For some, getting a certificate of completion from a class (35%) would teach them the skills they’re looking for, while one in four would be interested in getting a degree or a second degree.

What are Americans looking to learn? According to respondents, ​​the skills needed to be a successful professional are different than they were just five years ago (54%).

Above other kinds of credentials, those surveyed said that a degree is still most valuable for someone entering the workforce (37%) followed by a professional license (35%) or certificate (34%). The most valuable skills they’d be interested in exploring at this point in their career are traits of leadership (18%), management or planning (14%), and understanding how to utilize artificial intelligence (14%).

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According to 54% of American workers, ​​the skills needed to be a successful professional are different than they were just five years ago. (© NicoElNino – stock.adobe.com)

“In an era of rapid technological advancements and a dynamic job market, expanding your skills and knowledge is paramount for remaining competitive and sought after by both current and prospective employers,” says Dr. Becky Takeda-Tinker, president of CSU Global, in a statement. “As workforce and industry needs continue to change, it is important that institutions of education and industry leaders work together to provide the tools and training necessary for individuals to excel in their professions and in the workplace.”

Over the past year, employed Americans have taken the initiative when it comes to growing at work, like taking on more work (42%), learning a new skill (40%), and contributing above their job title (30%). Others have taken the learning route, like participating in a professional course (26%), using free resources to self-study (23%), or earning a new degree or certification (10%).

Yet, there are roadblocks on the upskilling journey. Forty-one percent of working Americans are worried about losing their free time if they begin expanding their skill set. Workers are also concerned about the costs of upskilling (31%) and not having enough time in their current workday (27%).

To overcome some of these worries, those interested in upskilling want to do so using time-saving options like studying online (54%) or with a hybrid approach (33%). With that in mind, 82 percent said that if their job offered them an upskilling opportunity within the next six months, they would be interested in pursuing it.

“Asynchronous online learning provides unparalleled flexibility and affordability for learners who are managing busy personal and professional schedules,” Dr. Takeda-Tinker explains. “With high-quality online education, individuals can optimize their career growth while still meeting their family, workplace, and community commitments.”

“Not all programs are created equal, however, so it is important to seek a program from an accredited institution with courses taught by credentialed and experienced faculty instructors, that also has fully online academic and career support resources to facilitate learner success.” 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 employed Americans was commissioned by CSU Global between March 20 and March 26, 2024. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

About Patrisha Antonaros

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