Upskilling is more than just providing access to training.

Upskilling: Bridging the Digital Divide

Upskilling for the digital world has become a priority for society, organisations and governments. The world is at an inflection point, and we need to act now, collectively, to tackle this major, global issue before we risk excluding great swathes of society from the workplace. Watch this trailer of our short documentary “Bridging the Digital Divide".

Duration: 00:01:18

Watch the full video here

What do people really think about the impact of technology on jobs? 

We asked more than 22,000 workers to share their hopes and fears.  Here’s what they told us:

53% of workers believe automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years

Change is coming

  • Workers know automation will change their jobs, and want to learn new skills to improve their employability. 

    • 53% of workers believe automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within the next ten years. Only 28% of respondents feel this is unlikely.

    • 77% of adults would learn new skills now or completely retrain to improve their future employability—of these, 35% "strongly agree".


61% of workers were positive about the impact of technology on their day-to-day work

Digital skills are key

 In fact, most workers welcome new technologies.

  • The majority (61%) were positive about the impact of technology on their day-to-day work. 
  • But only a third of workers, 33%, are given many opportunities to develop digital skills outside their normal duties.


50% of people believe automation presents more opportunities than risks

Opportunity awaits 

At least half believe that automation presents more opportunities than risks. They believe that automation will improve their job prospects and enable them to achieve digital proficiency or become an expert.

  • 50% globally believe ‘automation presents more opportunities than risks’. 20% believe the opposite.

  • 60% of global respondents think technology will improve their job prospects. 26% say it will impede their prospects and 14% think it will make no difference. 

Over 34% of adults without education or training beyond secondary school say they are not learning any new digital skills, compared to just 17% of graduates

Education matters

The level of education impacts people’s optimism. College and university educated respondents are the most optimistic about technology and their future employment prospects—even though they believe their current job is likely to change significantly or be displaced. Younger respondents prefer to develop proficiency in a specific technology, while older respondents are keen to build proficiency at learning and adapting to new technologies as they develop: 

  • Fear is greatest where opportunities are fewest—among those whose formal education ended after secondary school.

    • Over a third (34%) of adults without education or training beyond secondary school say they are not learning any new digital skills, compared with just 17% of college or university graduates.

    • Workers without tertiary education are also less likely to be offered such training opportunities by their employers (38% are getting no such opportunities compared with 20% of graduate workers), and are understandably the group most nervous or fearful about the future. 

Does the impact of technology excite or worry you? Are you ready to learn new skills? Compare yourself against 22,000 people around the world


Compare your answers with those from the survey...

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How to start upskilling

The digital revolution requires a skills revolution. The skills revolution is about helping people build their digital awareness, understanding and skills to fully participate in the digital world — and it needs to start now. 

At PwC, we are working with other organisations across the world, building on our work with clients and on upskilling our 276,000 people. Still, more must be done if we are to ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn, work and participate in the digital world. This is at the heart of our purpose.

How do organisations upskill?

Organisations are transforming their workforces to drive productivity, innovation and growth. Upskilling is key. It’s about anticipating the right skills for the future, laying the cultural foundation, delivering modern upskilling programmes, and building a learning and development function with the right EdTech to deliver a vastly better return on upskilling investment.  Find out how we can help you upskill.

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How is PwC reaching those at risk of being left behind?

The digital divide is already a significant global problem and is at risk of getting worse if we aren’t successful in helping those currently excluded from the workforce and the next generation to build the right skills. We are working to reach those where the need is greatest: 

Explore our community initiatives

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How can businesses, governments and institutions work together on this complex issue?

Solutions to the challenge of upskilling will need to be developed at the local, regional and national level, and no one organisation can do this alone. Government leaders and policymakers need to ensure that citizens have the knowledge to participate, and they themselves have the knowledge to drive discussion on the future of technology and regulation. Institutions, such as those that make up the education system, need to digitally transform themselves and at the same time provide services that are fit for the future.   

Read about PwC’s involvement in the Luxembourg Digital Skills Bridge project, a government-led initiative which brought together stakeholders across business, trade unions and training providers to deliver a comprehensive national solution for developing workforce skills. 

The need to upskill is a complex problem that will require decision-makers — educators, national, regional and local government administrators and business leaders — to come together. If you would like to find out more about what we at PwC are doing, get in touch.

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Insights on upskilling

We’ve pulled together research and insights to guide your decision-making on how to upskill. 

Contact us

Barry Ross

Global Upskilling Programme Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7802 219 116

Carol Stubbings

Joint Global Leader, People and Organisation, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) 77 3987 4275

Blair Sheppard

Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership Development for the PwC Network, PwC United States

Colm Kelly

Global Tax and Legal Services Leader, Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

Tel: +353 1 792 8943

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