UK companies “failing to equip workforce” with skills necessary for times ahead

Businesses need to invest in – and focus on – the human skills of creativity, leadership and adaptability to better prepare the workforce for the future. A survey of 1,246 business and Human Resources (HR) leaders from 79 countries conducted by PwC finds that 87% of companies believe human skills are a critical capability for the future, but only 33% have talent practices that drive these skills. A similar percentage use data analytics to predict and monitor skills gaps in the workforce.  

Separate employee research from PwC finds that only 41% of employees in the UK believe their employer is providing them with the skills they need for the workplace of the future.

Alastair Woods, partner at PwC, commented: “HR Departments must lead the way in growing and building the capabilities the workforce of tomorrow will require. The impact of automation and robotics over the course of the next decade will mean some tasks disappear, but new activities will emerge that rely on uniquely human skills like judgement, empathy and innovation. To prepare for this change, HR teams must develop a thorough understanding of future needs and put in place the learning and development programmes and other tools like performance management needed to help and underpin this transition.”

The changing nature of work is accompanied by an increase in the numbers of contractors, freelancers and portfolio workers. A rising number of partnerships between large organisations and smaller start-ups are providing ready access to innovation and talent on demand. Identifying where and how to engage this flexible talent will become increasingly important for organisations, yet few are prepared for this shift. Only 8% of global respondents strongly agree their organisations are able to engage easily with this valuable resource as and when needed.

Separate employee research carried out by PwC finds that more than half (55%) of 18 to 34 year-olds in the UK would work in the gig economy compared to less than 30% of those above that age group. They cite having greater control and flexibility as being positive aspects around this.

The flexibility desired by younger generations is recognised by business and HR leaders as increasingly important in attracting and retaining talent (70%). However, less than half (45%) currently give their employees a high degree of autonomy and control around when and where they work.

Woods added: “Firms need to think about how they embrace flexibility while ensuring workers have a fair deal. Businesses are missing a trick by ignoring the huge value gig economy workers could add to a company and are failing to invest in tapping into this workforce. HR has a role to play in preparing the organisation for growing numbers of gig workers and moving from a ‘one size fits all’ HR model. With attitudes changing, and gig working seen as a positive alternative employment model, it should fall to HR to design the recruitment, reward and recognition elements that will attract gig workers and see them return.”

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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