Global survey warns of workplace skills shortage

by Brett Henebery12 Jul 2017
New figures from Grant Thornton’s International Business Report – a quarterly global survey of 2,500 businesses in 36 economies – found that while business optimism is rising to new highs, a storm may be brewing in the shape of a skilled worker shortage.

Global business optimism has hit a record quarterly high in Q2 2017, representing five consecutive quarters of increases.

Underpinning this, global revenue expectations also equal their all-time quarterly high of 56%, as do expectations around increased profitability (47%).

Francesca Lagerberg, Global Leader at Grant Thornton, told Business Wire that while it would be easy to analyse these figures as good news for the business community, “a major warning light is flashing” in the shape of a skills shortage.

“Despite firms telling us they plan to hire more staff, we’ve seen a steady increase in fears that a lack of skilled workers could hamper future growth,” Lagerberg said.

“Addressing skills shortages is a difficult balancing act. The message to businesses from these findings is to plan and prepare for spending more to ensure the skills needed to drive future growth.”

Lagerberg said that increasing wages is a short-term measure but longer-term, businesses will need to look at training programs to boost skills among existing workers.

“This also involves working more closely with education institutions to ensure the right skills are being taught at an early age,” she said.

Lisa Morris, Senior Regional Director for Hays Human Resources, told L&D Professional that employers need to be investing in the digital upskilling of their employees, but more often than not this is being left to individuals to ensure their own digital skills continue to grow.

“That’s why jobseekers are focused on finding those employers that will offer them an opportunity to grow their skills on-the-job. These employers have a real attraction advantage today,” Morris said.

“As we continue to see rapid technological advances change the competencies required to do our jobs, more employers will need to provide opportunities for employees to upskill – particularly as the fourth industrial revolution now beckons.”

As for any specific digital skills that employees should be learning but perhaps are not, Morris said this depends on their industry and sector.

“The key point is to be aware of the latest technology and digital trends relevant to your job or industry and upskill accordingly,” she explained.

“For instance, in IT a Developer should become proficient in the recently released Google Cloud IOT and soon-to-be released NET Core 2.0 and consider how AI is making inroads into real world business application.”

Morris said that in the case of architecture, an Architect should gain REVIT (software is specifically built for building information modelling) expertise and learn new technology and tools such as design-to-fabrication and augmented and virtual reality.

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