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5 ways that CEOs and CHROs must partner better to tackle skills gaps

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Four out of five CEOs (79%),  interviewed globally, bemoaned their employees' lack of essential skills and identified this factor as a threat to growth, in PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey trends series.

This compares to just 63% in 2014 — confirming that concern over skills has risen in line with the advent of new technologies over the past five years.

In fact, CEOs all across regions are concerned over the lack of skills. CEOs in Japan and Central/Eastern Europe are most worried, with 95% and 89%, respectively, naming it as a concern, whereas those in Italy (55%) and Turkey (45%) are the least anxious about it.

Of those who are most worried, below is what CEOs say is getting the most impacted:


The report, called Talent Trends 2019: Upskilling for a Digital World, took into account 3,200 interviews with CEOs in more than 90 territories.

In light of their worries, CEOs list the following as the most important initiatives close the potential skills gaps in their organisation:

  • 46%: Significant retraining/upskilling
  • 18%: Hiring from outside my industry
  • 17%: Establishing a strong pipeline direct from education
  • 14%: Hiring from competitors
  • 5%: Changing composition of workforce between permanent and contingent

Tackling the workforce challenge: Working with the CHRO

The report considered five things that organisational leaders, including CEOs and CHROs, must prioritise in order to negotiate this risk-fraught workplace revolution under a watchful public eye:

1. People-related analytics must improve

CEOs are desperate for data on the views and needs of their people (86% say it’s important or critical for decision making), but only 29% say the data they receive is adequate. The quality and comprehensiveness of data about employee activity is a long-running problem that must be addressed.

ALSO READ: HRUnplugged: The most common misconception people have about HR

2. Leaders need to be much clearer about their reskilling strategy

More than half (55%) haven’t yet created a clear narrative about the future of their workforce and automation. Which skills will be valued and rewarded? Which won’t be needed? Which soft skills are required alongside digital skills? Employees expect honest answers about their future.

ALSO READ: Award-winning HR directors on the one initiative they’re most proud of

3. The external narrative will be equally important

Business leaders need to clearly explain to their external constituents how they will balance the right level of productivity with the need to build trust with society over the longer term.

ALSO READ: 30% of staff want managers to improve on communication

4. Reskilling is only part of the story

It’s more important than ever that organisations create a workplace where people want, and not just need, to work each day — and the evidence suggests that CEOs are not yet providing the workday experiences that people are looking for.

ALSO READ: 5 things we learnt at Talent Experience Forum

5. A new approach to workplace management

The way in which people are measured, incentivised and rewarded will have to change. Investment in workforce transformation is more likely to pay dividends if it inspires, rather than demands, the right behaviours — and if it sets the expectation that change is a constant.

ALSO READ: What type of pay scheme is best for achieving business results?

Images / PwC, 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey

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