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Reskilling – CEOs are now focussed on reskilling and upskilling their existing workforce says PWC’s 22nd CEO Survey

Automation, primarily in the form of robotics and artificial intelligence, brings with it the promise of improved productivity and higher profits — but at what cost to employment and, by extension, to society? What responsibility do corporations have to reskill employees who otherwise would be displaced by technology? And what value does reskilling offer an organisation?

Four out of five CEOs bemoaned their employees’ lack of essential skills and identified this factor as a threat to growth (see Exhibit 1). That concern has risen in line with the advent of new technologies over the past five years, and is voiced consistently across all regions: 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. The skills shortage stymies growth chiefly because it stifles innovation and raises workforce costs (see Exhibit 2).

There has been a clear shift over the past few years in the type of skills that leaders say they are looking for. In 2008, CEOs were struggling to find people with global experience. Today, organisations desperately need tech-savvy leaders and employees. In other words, at every level of the hierarchy, people are needed who can harness innovative thinking, form the right strategies and apply the systems and tools that best fit the needs of the business.

Focus on reskilling

With the right skills in scarce supply, CEOs must find cost-effective ways of sourcing what they need. Previous surveys have shown CEOs exploring the idea of hiring people from other sectors — particularly from industries that are further along the innovation journey — and making use of ‘gig economy’ workers when appropriate. This year’s survey sees a shift. CEOs are now focussed on reskilling and upskilling their existing workforce (see Exhibit 3).

The World Economic Forum estimates that it will cost US$24,000 per head to reskill displaced US workers, but when set against the alternatives — severance payments for workers who are let go and the cost of nding new workers with in- demand skills, amongst other things — reskilling is the more attractive option.

It’s understandable that organisations are concentrating on reskilling. Given the right context, people can be highly adaptable, and the ability of organisations to harness that adaptability will be critical as the world of work evolves. The good news is that employees are more than willing to reskill. According to a PwC global survey of more than 12,000 workers, employees are happy to spend two days per month on training to upgrade their digital skills, if such training is o ered by their employer.

Chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor. Read the whole story at 22nd CEO Survey: Talent trends

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