Employees need to take more responsibility for their own training and development to ensure the skills they have match business needs, according to new research out today from Hays, the leading recruiting expert. Despite high levels of unemployment, industries like IT, finance and energy are still experiencing skills shortages and have roles they cannot fill. Whilst employers have a responsibility to develop the right skills to plug these gaps, employees shouldn’t ignore the issue.

The new survey of workers in the private sector also reveals that over half (55%) do not know, or are unsure about, the skills employers are likely to demand in the next five years. Over half (58%) report that the skills required for their current roles are already changing and just under half (46%) are concerned their current skill set will be insufficient to meet employers expectations in five years time.

Sixty-one per cent of workers complain that their current employer is not doing enough to invest in their skills. But almost half (49%) assert that primary responsibility should actually fall to them to make sure they have the skills needed by their industry, rather than their employer, relevant professional bodies or the government.

Yet despite this, over a third (37%) aren’t taking any action to remedy this shortfall themselves. And those that are may not be doing enough; the majority of workers (60%) say the only action they are taking to keep up with the skills needed by their industry is staying up-to-date with trends through trade magazines and seminars. Only around a third are looking to obtain relevant qualifications or are enrolling on courses to enhance specialist skills.

Charles Logan, Director at Hays, comments: “Many employers have understandably been focusing on immediate survival and agility over recent years, and our research indicates that they may themselves be unsure about the skills they will require in years to come. If they can gain an understanding of this and communicate what they will need it will help employees to work towards building their skill sets in the right direction.”

“But, employees also need to start taking ownership of their career. Many sectors are still experiencing skills shortages, with employers unable to fill key positions. To take advantage of these vacancies, jobseekers should invest in their future by developing skills that are needed by businesses. They cannot rely on their employer to keep their skills and experience sufficiently suited to changing markets. They will need to talk to experts in the field and undertake their own research to find out what skills are needed now and in the future.”