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New research shows non-graduates and older workers at risk of being left behind

- Almost half of workers are concerned that AI will disrupt their career in the next decade

- Graduates more likely to seek employer-led training than non-graduates in the next two years (31% versus 18%)

- Silver surfers being left behind with just 19% planning to upskill themselves in the next two years

- Social disparities being exacerbated with training inaccessible for some

Non-graduates, silver surfers and those in lower socio-economic brackets will be left behind as the rise of AI creates a ‘skills glass ceiling’. That’s according to the latest Robert Half Jobs Confidence Index (JCI) – an economic confidence tracker produced in partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr).

Non-graduates and silver surfers left behind

The latest iteration of the Robert Half JCI revealed that almost half (45%) of the UK workforce is concerned that AI will disrupt their career in the next six to ten years. The data suggests that graduates and those completing further education are being set up for better success in the AI revolution, with 31% expecting access to training through work and 33% reskilling independently in the next two years. In comparison, just 19% of non-graduates plan to independently upskill and only 18% expect access to this through their employer between now and 2026.

Looking further down the line, 50% of graduates are planning to access training through industry and professional member bodies in the next five years, with just 37% of non-graduates planning to upskill via these channels. These combined statistics suggest that those without a degree or further education will be left behind in the AI revolution, which will only exacerbate both skills shortages and the widely reported social disparities and economic inactivity rates that the UK is experiencing.

According to the statistics, it’s not just a lack of access to training that is set to disadvantage non-graduates. There also appears to be a gap in recognition of the impact of AI and skills between those with a degree and those without. More than half (52%) of graduates indicated they are concerned about the impact of AI on their job over the next six to ten years, compared to just a third (33%) of non-graduates.

Elsewhere, the data also suggests that older workers are at risk of being pushed out of the workforce due to AI. Just 19% of over 55’s are seeking AI training themselves over the next few years while only 18% are looking for this through their employers. With a significant proportion of this generation leaving the workforce during Covid – and the Government seeking to entice them back – these statistics paint a concerning picture given the Bank of England governor is signalling the UK economy is near or at full employment.

Social disparity exacerbated

The data also shows that those in lower socio-economic groups are at risk of missing out on vital upskilling. While 29% of those in the upper-mid social tier are proactively seeking and funding AI-related training themselves over the next two years, this falls to 25% of those in the lower social grade. This is likely to result from limited access to the financial resources one needs to undertake training.

It should be noted that while the social demographic likely to hold professional or managerial positions in their careers, and have completed higher education,are more likely to be able to fund their own skills development, they are also planning to utilise employer-led schemes, with 47% expecting access to this training. In contracts, only 40% of those in the lower social grade are seeking this through their employer.

As Chris Lawton, Vice President Permanent Placements UK & Ireland at Robert Half, explained, this not only puts greater pressures on employers, but could also exacerbate social disparities in the workforce:

“AI is going to create a seismic shift in the workforce. And empowering workers through upskilling and reskilling will enable them to better leverage AI tools, helping to drive business value, improve efficiency and shape the future of success. However, our data suggests that there is currently the potential for a disparity in access to training that could disadvantage those without further education, older workers or those in less advantaged social groupings. The announcement in the Spring Budget that the Government is creating a £7.4 million upskilling fund pilot to increase AI skills access for SMEs is just the first step of what is required. Nonetheless, if such training isn’t being well targeted across the workforce, then true societal impact is at risk of being limited.

“Unless addressed in a structured way, the systemic tech skills shortages the UK is facing are at risk of being exacerbated as per the findings in our JCI. Businesses, education institutions, industry bodies and policy makers need to work together to ensure no-one is left behind due to a lack of access to training.”


Press contact

Vickie Collinge

01582 790 705

About the research

In partnership with the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the quarterly Robert Half Jobs Confidence Index is the most authoritative report on the key socio-economic factors influencing confidence in the UK labour market.

The Jobs Confidence Index (JCI) is made up of four equally weighted pillars, each measuring a factor which contributes to jobs confidence. These are:

1.Job security confidence

2.Pay confidence

3.Job search and progression confidence

4.Macroeconomic confidence

The JCI takes a positive or negative number, where numbers above zero signal that jobs confidence is higher than the long-term average, and numbers below zero show it is lower. The JCI can take any number, but it usually stands between -30 and 30, showing that confidence is close to a

normal level when it is within this range.

About Robert Half

Founded in 1948, Robert Half is the world's first and largest specialised talent solutions consultancy, working to fill professional services roles at all levels within the finance and accounting, banking, technology, HR, marketing and legal sectors. The company has more than 300 staffing locations worldwide and offers hiring and job search services at

Robert Half understands that it takes time and effort to evaluate the best talent strategy for different businesses. For further independent advice to assist with your recruitment and workforce planning efforts, visit

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