Bridging the Skills Gap: Single Most Important Factor to Survival in The Future of Work

CEOs globally say it’s now or never.

KPMG’s new global survey of nearly 1,300 CEOs from companies across 11 industries in 10 countries reveals that 72% of believe that the next three years will be more critical for their industry than the last 50 years. These CEOs agree that that technological change will be one of the biggest factors impacting growth in this period, second only to economic factors.

These leaders are facing significant transformation with rapidly advancing technology — with over 50% reporting skills gaps in key business functions and nearly all, 99%, of the CEOs report taking action to develop existing or future talent.

CEO survey reveals an urgent scenario:

  • 88% are concerned about the impact of the global economy on their company.

  • 85% are having to consider the integration of basic automated business processes with artificial intelligence and cognitive processes.

  • 41% anticipate that their company will be substantially transformed over the next 3 years.

  • 82% question the relevance of their products/services 3 years from now.

  • 77% are concerned about whether their organization is keeping up with new technologies.

What’s the DNA of a top performing company?

The survey also noted that the top-performing companies (those surveyed that recorded at least a 10% growth year-on-year in the last three years) were prepared in varying degrees for disruption:

  • 44% felt they were fully prepared for a cybersecurity event

  • 51% believe their company will be fully transformed in 3 years

  • 41% were considered leaders in data and analytics

For CEOs reported to be most confident about their growth, the top three significant investments are all rooted in technology. These organisations are increasing data analysis capability (26%), cognitive computing/AI (25%) and cyber security solutions (23%).

Top strategic priorities and investment over the next three years

The top three strategic priorities for CEOs over the next three years are: fostering innovation, implementing disruptive technology and talent development. Three of the top five areas of investment over the next three years are increasing data analysis capabilities, new product development and cybersecurity (30% of CEOs are concerned about cyber security as a top risk.)

What’s New Zealand’s position in technological competitiveness today?

In the Global Competitiveness Report’s innovation rating for 2015 -16 released by the World Economic Forum, it is concerning that New Zealand is at a mediocre #25 on a list that includes Finland (#2), Sweden (#7), Singapore (#9) & Denmark (#10) in the top 10, all of which are countries with a similar population size to New Zealand.

So, where do we begin?

The first step is simple: acknowledge that this tidal wave of transformation upon us. The second is to bridge the skills gap to meet the need of 21st century careers — to solve wicked problems, to stay relevant, survive and advance as a race.

The strategic priorities, confidence or concern that CEOs revealed in KPMG’s study underscores a key need — a skilled workforce that is well-versed in the demands of the 4th Industrial Revolution. A recent WEF report, The Future of Jobs, reveals that by 2020 more than one-third of skills that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed. More importantly, the report lays emphasis on the timeline of this impact as not a risk in the distant future but a condition we are witnessing now. The Internet of Things, advanced manufacturing and 3D printing is already mainstream with advanced robotics, autonomous transport, artificial intelligence and machine learning set to commercialise in the next 2 years or less.

Let’s not hide. Let’s ride the wave of change.


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