By Wilhelm Crous
According to PwC’s Talent Trends Report 2020 (which was based on survey data from late
2019) 74% of CEOs where already concerned about the availability of key skills. That was
before Covid-19 struck! With businesses now forced to go digital, the skills employees
require can be quite different to before.
According to Carol Stubbings and Nicole Wakefield in STRATEGY + BUSINESS, this
necessitates CEOs taking the lead when it comes to upskilling.
They suggest four reasons for CEOs to act immediately and use this to further develop
strategies to build the workforce that’s future-ready. They also make the point that upskilling
should be a top priority in a world where the speed of change is unprecedented and the path ahead is ambiguous and uncertain. The economic case for upskilling and reskilling has been proved over and over.
It’s against this backdrop that CEOs should focus on the following:
1. Focus on upskilling that delivers business strategy. Three quarters of people
surveyed across the world indicated they wanted to improve their skills. With that
high level of motivation, leaders can do well to align learning and development
initiatives with business goals. The fact is that many CEOs will require upskilling in
areas such as collaboration, remote working practices, problem solving and digital
2. Prioritise employee engagement and experience. There is a measurable connection
between upskilling and employee engagement. This has been prominent through
various surveys conducted by PwC and others. Gallup also found that highly engaged
business units have a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in
3. Boost productivity. In a recent global survey of office workers by the software
company UiPath, 80% of workers said they’d expect to be more productive if they
learned new skills, and 88% said they’d be more willing to continue working at a
company that offered upskilling and reskilling opportunities. The proverbial “penny
has dropped” at various organisations. For example, PwC offers training to all staff
on a variety of tools. More than 275,000 employees around the world, in 157
countries and regions are participating. The digital hubs that have been created to
support this effort now generate thousands of ideas that solve their day-to-day
4. Embrace a growth mindset to inspire life long learning. The rapid transformation
and subsequent success of Microsoft over the last few years is proof of what a growth
mindset culture can achieve. CEOs can both have, and lead, with a growth mindset
and should encourage their workforce to evolve. They can start by upskilling
personally and communicating what they are doing to their people. Stubbings and
Wakefield stress that, “Savvy leaders who value and nurture their workforce’s innate
talents, ability to learn, and desire to do good work, will have a greater chance of
boosting their business and retaining and attracting talent.” That in itself will not only increase the growth potential of the organisation but also prepare the organisation to
respond to radical challenges such as posed by Covid-19.
Also have a look at our upcoming conferences and workshops which will your team for the weeks and months ahead.
Stubbings, C., & Wakefield, N. (2020, September 28). strategy+business. Retrieved from