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Playbook for upskilling in the modern world

Jobs are changing fast, and our society’s biggest challenge is the future of work and its effect on jobs. Canadian CEOs have started to take notice and lay the groundwork for their upskilling plans—but are concerned about their effectiveness. One thing’s clear: today’s tight labour market will not provide the skilled talent organizations need. They will have to develop their talent from the inside.

New world. New skills.

Canadian CEOs are familiar with the need to find the right skilled workers and continue to see talent as key to strategic success. They’re cautious about changes to their headcount and aren’t relying on hiring their way out of the problem. Last year, Canadians were heavily focused on strong pipelines from educational institutions as the best way of closing a skills gap. This year, there’s a renewed focus on retraining and internal upskilling, with a majority of organizations having made progress to define the skills needed and build employee engagement.

75% of Canadian CEOs

say they’re concerned about the availability of key skills in relation to their growth prospects.

52% of Canadian CEOs

cite an ability to attract, retain and develop talent as one of the top three contributors to their strategic goals.

Finding the right upskilling mix

Many Canadian CEOs say their upskilling plans are failing to meet the evolving needs of the business, especially compared globally. They see certain benefits, such as improved culture and retention, but they’re less likely to believe upskilling has been effective at increasing workforce productivity, growing the business or fostering innovation. 

This could be attributed to not having the right upskilling programs in place or not being able to properly measure their programs' effectiveness. Canadian CEOs admit they’re lagging behind in establishing upskilling programs that take on a more holistic approach: developing the right mix of soft, technical and digital skills.

Canadians are eager to learn

Upskilling is more than just training. It’s about preparing people for an increasingly digital world by enhancing their skills and being better citizens. Canadian CEOs note that motivating or incentivizing workers to learn is among their top upskilling challenges, but most workers welcome new technologies. PwC’s global Hopes and Fears Survey shows that a majority of workers are positive about the impact technology will have on their day-to-day work, and 77% are ready to learn new skills.

The upskilling playbook

Find out where to start

Canadian CEOs are lagging behind in establishing upskilling programs that develop a mix of soft, tech and digital skills. Do you understand the impact that new ways of working will have on your organization? To get started, assess current workforce capabilities and identify the size and nature of your organization’s skills mismatches and what to prioritize.

Build capacity

Canadian CEOs say their top upskilling challenge is a lack of resources. To move forward, you need to develop a strategic business case and free up capital to pay for the transformation. Be fit for growth by capitalizing on short-term opportunities (e.g. simplification), evolve the business model and unlock investment capacity. Review and refresh your upskilling strategy through continuous improvement to make sure no resource is wasted or misdirected. 

Create an upskilling mindset

Canadian CEOs are less likely to believe upskilling is effective at increasing productivity and innovation. Bring citizen-led innovation and upskilling together. Through our own digital upskilling journey, we’ve helped inspire citizen-led innovation and create a culture of care. Innovation and learning go together as organizations look to boost productivity and customer experience.

Evaluate return on investment

One-third of Canadian CEOs put measuring business outcomes among their top challenges. It’s important to set KPIs at the onset of your program and measure the return on your learning investment, track engagement and benchmark results along the way. Then create visibility around the outcomes. This will ensure you’re measuring and communicating the value your programs are creating for your organization.

Reach out and collaborate

If companies lack resources, it may be an opportunity to lean on industry groups, alliances and joint ventures to fill the gap. In fact, CEOs have reduced their focus on all revenue growth activities except new strategic alliances or joint ventures, which remain stable. So build relationships and learn from each other.

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Contact us

Nicolas Marcoux

Nicolas Marcoux

Chief Executive Officer, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5302

Matthew Wetmore

Matthew Wetmore

National Managing Partner Industry & Regions, Strategy&, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 509 7483

Diane Kazarian

Diane Kazarian

GTA Managing Partner, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 365 8228

Jean McClellan

Jean McClellan

National Consulting People and Organization Leader, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 403 509 7578

Baya  Benouniche

Baya Benouniche

Partner, People and Organization, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 514 205 5409

Kathy Parker

Kathy Parker

Partner, People and Organisation, PwC Canada

Tel: +1 416 687 9014