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Why workforce planning is needed to close the skills gap

Many managers and HR leaders are failing to focus on developing key human skills

Organisations of all sizes face the ongoing challenges of attracting, training and retaining the right talent. However, a recent survey has found that many managers and HR leaders are failing to focus on developing key human skills to ensure their workforce is equipped for the changing nature of work.

The global survey, conducted by PwC, asked respondents to pick their top two organisational capabilities, in respect of their future importance. Topping the list of 45 capabilities was that the organisation is trusted by society. Second in the list was ‘human skills’, such as creativity and adaptability. However, while 87% of the 1,246 respondents chose this as one of their top two capabilities, only a third of organisations claimed to have practices in place to develop these skills within their workforce.

In response to the survey findings, PwC partner, Alastair Woods, called on HR departments to take the lead in building capabilities needed by tomorrow’s workforce. He also emphasised that while automation will render some roles obsolete, there will be a greater need for human-based skills which cannot be replaced by technology, such as judgement, innovation and empathy.

The survey found that HR teams and managers recognise that the required capabilities of the workforce are changing to take account of such factors as the spread of automation. However, 55% of the respondent organisations have so far failed to act to produce a plan that sets out how they are going to adapt to these changes.

HR teams and managers must ensure they have a thorough understanding of future needs and must put processes in place, Woods warned. This will ensure organisations achieve a successful transition from current ways of working to an increasingly automated workplace driven by human skills.

Interestingly, in a separate survey published earlier in 2018, PwC asked 10,000 employees their thoughts on the future workplace. It found that while 37% fear that automation may put jobs at risk, nearly three-quarters were prepared to learn new skills in order to ensure they will remain employable. These figures suggest that employees actively want to acquire knowledge so they can be productive members of the changing future workforce.

The overall message from these surveys appears to be that planning for future skills requirements and the need for different capabilities is not something that can be ignored. The nature of work is changing and it is up to HR professionals and managers to ‘future-proof’ their organisation to ensure it is not left behind.

You can read the PwC surveys in full here:

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