As the digital age evolves, what keeps Kiwi CEOs awake at night?

“The digital age has transformed the skills shortage from a nagging worry for CEOs into something far more challenging.”

New Zealand CEOs are more concerned about the impact of a skills shortage on their business than at any point in the last six years.

According to research by PwC, Kiwi CEOs, as well as their global counterparts, are now finding it so difficult to find people with the skills they need to grow their business, with three quarters ranking skills shortage as the biggest threat to their business.

This represents a 10 percentage point jump from 2014 and is up from less than half (46 percent) six years ago.

Of the 1,300 CEOs interviewed by PwC rank, CEOs in Japan and South Africa are the most concerned with over nine in 10 of those surveyed say the availability of key skills is a threat to their organisation’s growth prospects.

This is closely followed by China (90 percent), Hong Kong (85 percent), New Zealand (84 percent and up from last year’s figure of 80 percent), UK (84 percent) and Romania (84 percent).

To solve the talent conundrum, CEOs are increasing their use of contingent workers, part-time employees, outsourcing and service agreements to fill their talent gaps.

According to PWC, they are also looking for a wider mix of skills than in the past and are searching for talent in different geographies, industries or demographic segments.

“Organisations both in New Zealand and globally are struggling more than ever to find the right people with the right skills to achieve their growth plans,” says Scott Mitchell, Partner and business adviser, PwC.

“The digital age has transformed the skills shortage from a nagging worry for CEOs into something far more challenging.”

Mitchell says filling talent gaps is also a major driver of Mergers and Acquisitions activity, with over a quarter of CEOs saying that access to top talent is the main reason for collaborating with other organisations.

As a result, this is creating a ‘gig economy’, where workers with the most in-demand skills can dictate where and when they work, and who they work for.

Despite rising business confidence and ambitious hiring plans, Mitchell says businesses are faced with a complex and shifting world where technology is driving huge changes.

“People with strong technology skills that can adapt and work across different industries are desperately needed, but these people are difficult to find and can afford to charge a premium for their skills,” he adds.

“New places, geographies and new pools of talent must be looked at - organisations can’t afford to recruit people as they’ve always done.”

Businesses feel that the Government has an important role to play in solving the skills gap with six in 10 CEOs, both globally and in New Zealand, believing that creating a skilled and adaptable workforce should be a top priority for government.

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