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CEOs must take the lead on upskilling

Wilhelm Crous - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

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 to build a 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 communication tools.

  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 productivity.

  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 are offer 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 problems.

  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.
Here at KR we’ve put together several conferences and workshops to assist you, as a leader to upskill, reskill and refocus yourself, as well as your team for the weeks and months ahead: 


Stubbings, C., & Wakefield, N. (2020, September 28). strategy+business. Retrieved from here.





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