Talent trends 2020

Upskilling: Building confidence in an uncertain world­


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PwC’s 23rd Global CEO Survey of 1,581 business leaders was conducted in September and October 2019, before the spread of COVID-19.

Three-quarters of CEOs said they were concerned about whether they would have the talent they needed. Their worry was around how that would constrain growth.

Today that same lack of people with the right skills and adaptability could hamper companies’ ability to thrive in a post-pandemic economy.

As businesses look to protect their workforce, they will still face the challenge of matching skills with gaps.

The transferable skills that organisations need today — creativity, problem solving, an understanding of how digital technology can be used -- are those that help their people think, act and thrive in a digital world that is much less predictable than we once thought.

These skills were hard to find before, and it won’t get much easier now. Finding people with the right skills and the right cultural fit will be even harder.

“Companies need to invest in their people. That’s how many companies will survive this crisis and become stronger.”

Carol Stubbings, Joint Global Leader for People and Organisation, Partner, PwC UK
How confident are you about your organisation's revenue growth over the next 12 months?

Progress on upskilling can breed confidence

When CEOs took the survey last year before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a clear correlation between progress on upskilling and the level of confidence that CEOs displayed.

CEOs of more advanced upskilling organisations were more optimistic about global economic growth. And these CEOs also had more confidence in their own revenue.

This may suggest that taking steps to upskill helps organisations build confidence because it shows a clear, practical course of action in an increasingly uncertain world. Additionally, employers who make good-faith efforts to upskill their employees build trust and that in turn can enhance the organisation’s reputation in a world where trust is an increasingly valuable commodity.

Upskilling delivers more than skills

Our survey shows that those with the most advanced upskilling programmes saw three times the improvement in innovation and accelerated digital transformation from those just starting their skills journey. And 60% say they see a clear improvement in corporate culture.

Those companies that have started the digital-upskilling journey will find themselves in a better position to benefit from growth when the economic climate improves because they will have a workforce that is ready. CEOs who have made the decision to upskill are seeing the advantages.

Doing so demonstrates leadership’s commitment to its people, builds an inclusive culture, and attracts and retains talent—all of which drive sustainable performance improvement.

How effective are your upskilling programmes in achieving the following outcomes? (showing only ‘very effective’).
Talent and upskilling graph
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