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PwC research shows skills shortage is biggest business threat

08 / 02 / 2017
PwC research shows skills shortage is biggest business...The UK underwent considerable economic and political upheaval last year, yet the country's CEOs remain confident about their growth prospects for the future, according to new PwC research

Nevertheless, skills shortages could be a sticking point for many businesses, with leaders citing a lack of talent as the primary threat to their operation in 2017. 

PwC found that 89 per cent of CEOs are optimistic about the year ahead, while 41 per cent said they were 'very confident' - an eight percentage-point increase on results from 2016. 

This positive sentiment has led many UK bosses to examine their headcounts, and nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) expect to boost their workforce over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, just 52 per cent of global CEOs said the same. 

But access to key skills is a major concern for the UK's senior executives; a whopping 83 per cent said they are worried about how they will find the right employees. This was a significant increase from last year's 71 per cent. 

Where are the skills gaps? 

Generally, the most sought-after skills are adaptability and problem solving, while leadership, creativity, innovation and collaboration are also highly prized. 

More specifically, strengthening digital capabilities is on the agenda for many UK businesses this year. One-quarter of CEOs in the country said this would help them capitalise on areas of new growth, compared with 15 per cent of leaders globally. 

However, organisations are finding it challenging to attract people with digital skills, with 67 per cent of UK firms struggling to identify potential candidates. Notably, this was much higher than the global average (52 per cent), which indicates that the UK has a specific skills gap in this area. 

"It is vital that we are able to attract businesses and people with the right tech skills, and also develop the requisite skills internally," said Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner of PwC. 

"With the current pace of technological change, it is hard to predict what jobs will look like in the future, so as well as developing digital skills, it is important that employees are adaptive and able to respond to the next skills challenge."

Cyber security concerns in 2017

Growth opportunities aren't the only reason that organisations may be looking to invest in digital skills. CEOs believe cyber security is the second biggest risk to their business in 2017, with 75 per cent of those polled claiming they are concerned about breaches. 

The global average was just 61 per cent, suggesting British companies are more worried than most countries about how their technology and systems could be under threat. 

Barclay Simpson's own research has found employers face difficulties when trying to attract people with the right cyber security skills. Our 2016 market report found 33 per cent of businesses had increased their security recruitment budget, yet 68 per cent of departments still felt under-resourced given the demands forced upon them. 

CEOs may need to focus on optimising their recruitment methods this year if they want to ensure they have the best candidates in place to tackle threats to their business in 2017. 

Our 2016 Compensation and Market Trends Reports combine our review of the prevailing conditions in the corporate governance recruitment market together with the results of our latest employer survey.

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