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As technology, including robots, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other forces change the nature of work, employees will need new skills to adapt to shifting roles. Research firm Gartner predicts that employees who regularly update their skill sets and invest in new training will be more valued than those with experience or tenure. But it’s not going to be easy. 

The World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs 2018” report estimates that, by 2022, more than half (54%) of employees will require significant skills updating or retraining. More than one-third (35%) will need about six months to get up to speed, while nearly one in five will require a year or more of additional training. 

And employers might not be much help. A 2019 global survey of employers by consulting firm Deloitte found that 86% of respondents rated the need to improve learning and development (L&D) as “important” or “very important.” But just 10% felt ready to “very ready” to address that need. As digital transformation affects so many businesses, a 2018 Gartner report found that just 20% of employees have the skills they need for their jobs now and in the future.

For workers who are concerned about remaining marketable, this raises a number of questions about where they should invest their efforts.

“In almost every job, you need a different set of skills than you did five years ago, and there’s no reason to believe that number’s going to get smaller,” says Brian Kropp, the Arlington, Virginia-based chief of human resources research at Gartner. Employees who are serious about remaining marketable must take it upon themselves to remain in demand in the marketplace.

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