U.S. Workers Under Pressure to Improve Skills

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Management, technical, and problem-solving skills are among the most in-demand by employers.

By Charyn Pfeuffer    

As if the everyday responsibilities of a job aren't stressful enough, U.S. workers are experiencing a new kind of pressure, according to a November 2011 study from Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services, and outsourcing company.

The Accenture Skills Gap Study, which surveyed 1,088 employed and unemployed U.S. workers, reports that 55 percent of employees are under pressure to step up their skills to stay competitive in their current and future positions.

Want to go back to school to improve your skills? Click to find programs now.

"Our study shows that workers are prepared to improve and expand their skills, but they're not receiving sufficient support to develop those skills," said David Smith, managing director of Accenture Talent & Organization, in a press release discussing the study's findings.

But despite whether or not they're receiving on-the-job training, 68 percent of workers feel that it's up to them - and not their employer - to stay relevant with their skills and education.

Priya Patel, an engineer in Huntington Beach, California is a part of this 68 percent.

Patel, who wants to transition from engineering into management, decided to go back to school part-time and earn her master's in business administration (MBA) from the University of California, Los Angeles.

"I realized that in order to ever impact change on a system level, I would have to be more than just a member of an engineering team," says Patel. "To me, this necessitates both engineering experience and business acumen, which is why I decided to earn my MBA while continuing to work full-time as an engineer so that I would gain both at the same time."

And Patel is on the right track, with the Accenture study citing managerial skills as one of the most in-demand skills by employers. Other in-demand skills include technology skills, problem-solving, and analytical skills.


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What's more, people who decide to improve their skills by going back to school might also have a better chance of avoiding the unemployment line, suggests "Education Pays...," a May 2011 report by the U.S. Department of Labor.

For specifics, the study reported that bachelor's degree holders had an unemployment rate of 5.4 percent in 2010, while people with only a high school diploma had an unemployment rate of 10.3 percent.

Here's a closer look at the most in-demand skills by employers, according to the Accenture study:

Technology skills can include understanding and using social media, working with databases, knowledge of IT architecture, project management, and more. Technology skills can be applied to a variety of careers including information technology (IT), where workers plan the role of technology within a company and put it into action.

Want to go back to school to improve your skills? Click to find programs now.

Problem-solving skills involve being able to analyze an issue that arises and coming up with solutions. This can include analysis, decision making, creative thinking, and more. Problem solving skills could benefit people in a variety of career fields, including engineering, where products may fail and need to be corrected.

Analytical skills can include visualizing, conveying, and solving a problem and concepts. These skills can be utilized in a number of career fields to help demonstrate a worker's ability to use logical thinking to solve problems and formulate plans.

Managerial skills  include problem-solving, making decisions, leadership, and resources, among other things. Attaining managerial skills could be beneficial for workers interested in advancing into leadership positions.


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