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24th CEO Survey—Quebec insights

Quebec CEOs are focused on the availability of key skills, so it will be crucial to prioritize upskilling efforts now. Explore the Quebec-specific insights from our 24th CEO Survey.
 

At a glance

  • Most Quebec CEOs are focused on operational efficiencies as activities to drive growth in the next year. CEOs that take an effective approach to revenue optimization and cost management can reinvest the savings in their planned investments in digital transformation.
  • Quebec CEOs are more worried than average about the availability of key skills. And with hiring on the rise, one thing’s clear: today’s tight labour market may not provide the skilled talent they need. Upskilling will be critical.
  • Nine out of ten Quebec CEOs have reassessed their organization’s risk tolerance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with the anticipated investments in digital in the years ahead, cyber threats are the top concern for Quebec CEOs, at 42%.

The digital transformation imperative

While Quebec CEOs are less optimistic about the prospect of global economic growth compared to the rest of Canada, there’s one thing all CEOs agree on: investing in digital. As a result of COVID-19, 73% of Quebec CEOs are planning to increase their spending on digital transformation over the next three years (71% nationally). To support this, Quebec organizations need to free up capital, upskill their workforces and manage emerging risks.


Becoming fit for growth

How can Quebec CEOs reassess their strategic plans and make their organizations fit for growth? Most are focused on organic growth (81%) and operational efficiencies (75%) as activities to drive growth in the next year. What’s more, 73% of Quebec CEOs are planning to increase their investment in digital transformation over the next three years. But only 58% are planning to increase investment in cost-saving initiatives, much less than the rest of Canada (68%).

CEOs that take an effective approach to revenue optimization and cost management may be able to reinvest their savings and drive their digital transformation further. It’s imperative for Quebec businesses to focus on their core strategic capabilities, reducing misaligned costs to redirect resources to transformation efforts that will help them thrive and reshape businesses for growth.

%

of Quebec CEOs believe global economic growth will increase in the next year, which is behind the national average of 72%.


About the Chefs de file podcast

The role of business leaders is changing more than ever. Faced with the challenges of digital acceleration, skills mismatches, economic inequalities, climate change, etc., CEOs have no choice but to rethink their way of doing things.

The Chefs de file is PwC Canada's first French-language podcast, where visionary leaders and invited guest experts come together to discuss the business and societal issues that matter to them.

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Nochane Rousseau,
Managing Partner,
Greater Montréal,
PwC Canada

"It’s very difficult to find employees, so Quebec CEOs should look at automation and work with the employees they have to keep them and to upskill them with what they really need."

Inside the workforce of the future

Quebec CEOs are more worried than average about the availability of key skills (35% versus 26% nationally). As the unemployment rate in Quebec drops, it’s no surprise the top workforce priority for CEOs is to develop upskilled, educated and adaptable workers. And they’re in favour of government and business interventions to help support this goal.

The Quebec labour market has returned to pre-pandemic levels in many sectors. While the retail, hospitality, entertainment and tourism sectors are still struggling, the unemployment rate for specialized labour is very low. We’re currently seeing a skills mismatch between the labour available in the market and the needs of Quebec businesses.

As we move into the future, this will be increasingly critical in places like Montréal, which shows a high concentration of professional, scientific and technical services. According to our PwC Canada report The impact of the pandemic on the downtown areas of Canada’s six major cities, more than one-third of the jobs in downtown Montréal are in the professional services and financial services sectors. These are specialized roles that will be increasingly difficult to keep filled.

With CEOs across Canada anticipating headcount increases in the coming years, finding (and keeping) the right people will be a challenge. Upskilling current staff will be important, as well as increasing automation and immigration. We’re also seeing more Quebec companies looking for talent elsewhere in the province and beyond in the current virtual context where more people are working remotely.

Only 33% of Quebec CEOs plan to focus on productivity through automation and technology, but this should continue to be a priority as skilled workers get harder to find and organizations invest in transformation.

Quebec CEOs are also somewhat more likely than average to be focusing on workforce engagement and communications, which could be a good way to build a culture of innovation among employees

 

%

of Quebec CEOs are in favour of government intervention to ensure an educated and adaptable workforce (60% nationally). The same number support business intervention (54% nationally).


Threats to growth—Quebec versus Canada

all saying “extremely concerned”
Quebec
Canada
Cyber threats
%
%
Availability of key skills
%
%
Pandemics / other health threats
%
%
Increasing tax obligations
%
%
Over-regulation
%
%
Policy uncertainty
%
%
Uncertain economic growth
%
%
Tax policy uncertainty
%
%

Reassessing risks and threats

Canadian CEOs are particularly attuned to risks, with 88% of Quebec and Canadian CEOs having reassessed their risk tolerance since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when looking at hazards to growth, Quebec CEOs are less concerned about most threats than average, including over-regulation, uncertain economic growth and tax policy uncertainty. (The only area in which they’re notably more concerned than average is the availability of key skills.) This may be due to the fact that the Quebec government has built a strong foundation with businesses, leaving CEOs with fewer reasons to be concerned.

Companies have needed to adopt digital tools faster than ever before. Coupled with the anticipated investments in digital in the years ahead, cyber threats are naturally a top concern for Quebec CEOs, at 42% (47% nationally). It’s not a surprise, considering that companies have accelerated their pivot to a digital business model since the pandemic, and they’re generating more data than ever before. CEOs have to consider a business-driven cyber strategy that aligns with the vision and goals of the whole enterprise, not just IT.

%

of Quebec CEOs are extremely concerned about over-regulation, policy uncertainty and uncertain economic growth—far below the national average.

Questions to consider

 growth economy orange

How can you reassess your strategic plans and make your organization fit for growth?

 skills education ideas orang

How can businesses, governments and institutions work together to help with upskilling?

 software orange

Have you considered a business-driven cyber strategy that aligns with the vision and goals of the whole enterprise rather than just IT?

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Nochane Rousseau

CPA, CA Managing Partner, Greater Montréal, Montreal, PwC Canada

+1 514 205 5199 

Email

Baya Benouniche

M.S. Partner, People and Organization, Montreal, PwC Canada

+1 514 205 5409

Email

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