60% of candidates in technical sectors lack right combination of hard and soft skills: Kelly Services survey shows

CIOReview Team | Friday, 16 December 2016, 11:29 IST

Hiring managers, across all Professional / Technical (PT) sectors say 60 per cent of candidates globally lack the right combination of hard and soft skills, highlights a recent survey by Kelly Services. PT hiring managers most frequently cite the ability to listen (81 per cent), and teamwork (72 per cent) as key soft skills that they look for in potential candidates. Team work is even more critical for engineering talent, at 85 per cent.

The latest Kelly Global Workforce Insights (KGWI) survey on Career Resilience also found that across the globe, 60 per cent of millennials are concerned with keeping their skills updated, reflecting the uncertain economic times that they grew up in, their fascination with technology and disruptive business models, and their relatively high degree of comfort with change. Geographically, APAC workers (64 per cent) are significantly more concerned with skills remaining current when compared to Americas (55 per cent) and EMEA (56 per cent).

PT workers represented over half of the workers surveyed in APAC and several PT disciplines reported meaningfully higher than average concerns with skills obsolescence versus layoffs (74 per cent of finance and accounting, 73 per cent of IT and 70 per cent of engineering). The findings reiterate the impending IT skill shortages in APAC, and the potentially negative impact on the region’s competitiveness.

“This is the age of do-it-yourself (DIY) career development. It is up to candidates to manage and invest in their own career—taking advantage of every learning and training experience, and building a personal brand that is separate from their employer. Career resilience will be defined by one’s acceptance of freelance assignments, temporary or contract opportunities,” said Thammaiah BN, Managing Director, Kelly Services India.

The rise of the personal brand

The KGWI survey shows that relationships play the most important role in personal branding and it is changing the way people network. This is true not just for hiring managers but also freelancers as the survey shows that 57 per cent of freelancers tap their personal and professional networks to find jobs via word-of-mouth and referrals. More importantly, 24 per cent of global workers secured their most recent job via word of mouth or employee referral and another 29 per cent directly from an employer or head-hunter. The survey also brings to the fore the importance of skills to back up positive reputation.

“Candidates should be open to interning or taking a temporary position to build experience, whether at the beginning or middle of their career. Starting as a temporary employee or completing an internship gives talent an edge with PT hiring managers, especially for engineering candidates,” added Thammaiah.

Most important hard skills

The Career Resilience survey established five universal hard skills most often mentioned by PT hiring managers as important. Ranked one to five were analytical thinking (80 per cent), communication (61 per cent), evaluation, analysis, accuracy and trouble shooting (58 per cent), technical including systems, computers, software (57 per cent) and complex problem solving skills (56 per cent) respectively.

The important take away from the survey was that fewer than 40 per cent of global workers take advantage of career discussions with their employer. And only one-third (32 percent) seek training and pays for it while 46 per cent take advantage of employer-provided training.

Candidates must remember that do-it-yourself training can provide an edge when the opportunity for a career conversation arises and augment the creation of advanced opportunities for the future, the report concluded.