Skill development top priority for businesses to succeed

How will businesses cope with accelerated change and succeed in the long term?

Skill development top priority for businesses to succeed
Carolyn Rush, Partner, Workforce of the Future, PwC Canada

Employers around the world are feeling pressure from a number of disruptive forces. In fact, 40% of executives globally believe their organization won’t survive more than 10 years without significant transformation. This means it is critical that businesses reinvent themselves in order to remain viable in the long term.

“But you can't transform for the future without figuring out how your people fit into those retention plans,” says Carolyn Rush, partner, Workforce of the Future with PwC Canada.

The ‘PwC 2023 Hopes and Fears’ survey shows that both Canadian employees and their employers are struggling with accelerated change and disruptive forces, and this is creating high levels of uncertainty about the future. As well, some Canadian workers are unsure about the skills they need for a changing world.

“One of the biggest differences that we've seen in the Canadian results are gaps in perspectives between employers and employees that suggest a lot of workers aren't necessarily ready for the widespread change that leaders believe are coming,” says Rush.

“Employers and employees need to carve out time to think intentionally about the future, which is difficult to do right in a time of significant disruption.”

Developing new skills is imperative

Employers need to think about an integrated people strategy and skills-based workforce planning. Employees need to think about how to adopt new skills and invest in developing both technical and human skills. Complex problem solving, agility, and resilience are skills that will be in high demand.

“Workplace culture is going to be a key enabler of change and innovation. Employers need to build a workforce strategy that will prepare them for reinvention.”

Rush says there are three key areas to create the workplace culture.

  1. Everyone needs to understand the wide-ranging impacts of new and rapidly rising technologies.
  2. Employers must adopt a skills-based approach to workforce strategies.
  3. Transformative leadership skills are a catalyst for change in organizations and this is critical through times of disruption and change. Good leadership will make sure there's a key focus on setting the purpose culture and a sense of inclusion.

Employees need be empowered to bring their ideas forward. Organizations will have to build a sense of trust and make sure employees and employers work together on charting the path for the future.”

Finding and retaining the right talent will be essential, adds Rush. Employers will need to focus on value propositions, recruitment, skill development, how they attract and reward people, how they evaluate performance, and how they will develop the core skills they will need in the future.

“Employees are looking for an organization that understands and supports their need to upskill for their own future. They want meaningful work, a sense of community, and a reward strategy that supports them and the future that they're trying to build.

“By showing that commitment to help employees prepare for what's next and creating the right conditions for them to influence and contribute to the future of the business, leaders can start to make themselves and their people ready for transformation and innovation.”