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Sowing the skills and talent seeds

Sowing the skills and talent seeds

One of the most critical roles of the CEO of the future is to understand how their business is going to change and to proactively consider how they can upskill their workforce accordingly.

Our data currently shows Australian CEO concern for the availability of key skills has been rising for several years, which comes as many organisations prepare and start both automation and digital transformation.

We see this sentiment continue with our 2018 APEC survey, with respondents highlighting availability of ‘digital ready talent’ an area that needs improvement across Australia. This need for improvement was rated the second highest priority, behind the need to improve Australia’s digital infrastructure.

Not so long ago, business could bridge some of this skills gap by attracting foreign talent. Though with recent changes to Australia’s working visas, concern is being expressed with the viability of this option today. Twenty eight percent of Australia’s respondents (APEC 16%) say they have experienced increased barriers to employing foreign labour in the past 12 months and expect that to continue in the coming 12 months.

Our business leaders are looking for other ways to fill the skills gap, such as reskilling talent for today’s work, and also equipping employees to embrace continued learning for future changes.

We suggest these 6 steps to help our business leaders reshape today’s workforce:

  1. Assess external disruption: decide which mega trends, industry changes and new and emerging technologies will shape tomorrow
  2. Align business strategy: ensuring that automation and digitisation opportunities support the business strategy and help shape a view on where the business needs to go and what capabilities are required to deliver that strategy without swamping the strategy
  3. Design a future fit workforce and workspace: identify which tasks are going to be impacted by automation or other tech, the implications of that for jobs and then assess how to evolve the culture of the organisation to respond
  4. Identify and close the skill gaps: find the balance between reskilling, upskilling and repurposing versus bringing in new skills, technology and knowledge as roles change and the demands on workers shift
  5. Use data and analytics: drive better decision making and leverage new and emerging technologies
  6. Implement: embed new structures, technologies, environments, skills, ways of working, management and governance to deliver the strategy and achieve the vision and purpose of the organisation
New ways to educate

Our view is that more collaboration between businesses, schools and other training institutions is vital to ensure all generations of workers are skilled for today’s digital world.
When asked how organisations are operating in the digital economy, less than one in five Australian respondents rated skills and development as something their organisations were highly competitive in. Meanwhile APEC peers rated this second (from six options).

When asked which areas organisations will prioritise investment in over the next two years, Australian respondents ranked the skills and development of the workforce as their third priority (out of a possible seven choices), their APEC peers ranked this second.

PwC estimates there will be net job creation from digital technology, however a collaborative approach is needed to assist people in adapting to the digital age. Organisations will need to invest in developing these skills to alleviate their growing concerns about skill availability.

Governments, businesses and communities need to work together in pioneering new approaches to education and training.

Sara Caplan CEO of PwC’s Skills for Australia recently outlined the need for educators and businesses to build a pipeline from the classroom to the workplace, so that the skills being taught today match the skills we will be demanding tomorrow.

Collaboration is vital to close the gap between the current and the future-fit workforce, though 58% of respondents suggest the government should be doing more to train STEM professionals (APEC 65%).

Employers can become active partners with educators and CEOs can have a say in what skills are being taught to address the current shortfall. Equally, they are responsible for being part of the skills solution, too.

Contact us

Philip Le Feuvre

Philip Le Feuvre

Director, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 3661

Scott Gillespie

Scott Gillespie

National Thought Leadership Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 3229

Kieran McCann

Kieran McCann

Head of Content and Thought Leadership, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (2) 8266 0252

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