Skills gap hampering business says PwC

A lack of key skills is hampering growth and government needs to "prioritise initiatives that help foster a skilled workforce", PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has found in an international survey of business leaders.

"Businesses are struggling with a widening mismatch between the skills of their workforce and the skills they need to achieve strong growth. There needs to be a joint approach to addressing the problem, with businesses and governments working together to plug the skills gap," PwC human resource services director Gerald Seegers said in a statement.

According to the survey of more than 1300 CEOs around the world, 58 percent say a lack of key skills is hampering their growth prospects and they see the availability of key skills as the second biggest threat to their business growth, just after the increasing tax burden (63 percent).

CEOs in Africa (82 percent), the Middle East (69 percent) and Asia-Pacific (64 percent) are the most concerned about the lack of key skills.

In South Africa, the level of concern was 71 percent.

The research shows businesses are looking to government to help them plug the skills gap. More than half of CEOs (57 percent) said that creating and encouraging a skilled workforce should be the government's highest priority for business for the year ahead.

South African chief executives were more positive than their global counterparts about the effectiveness of leadership development in their companies. Almost 90 percent regarded programmes to encourage diversity among business leaders and to involve managers below board level in strategic decision-making as most effective.

The research revealed that mining, energy, and engineering and construction companies report the most chronic shortage of skilled employees.

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