Invest In Human Skills, Businesses Advised

Companies around the UK have been issued a word of warning to ensure that they prioritise investment in human skills such as leadership, creativity and adaptability so as to create a workforce that’s properly prepared for the future.

A new study from PwC has found that just 41 per cent of employees think their business is providing them with the essential skills we need for work in the years ahead. And despite the fact that 87 per cent of companies think these human skills are a critical capability, just 33 per cent have talent practices in place that drive these skills.

The nature of work is changing and this is being accompanied by a rise in the numbers of freelancers, contractors and portfolio workers. As such, it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to identify where and how to engage with a flexible workforce, but it seems that there are few firms ready for this shift in the way of working. Just eight per cent of those asked said they strongly agree that their operations are able to engage easily with this resource as and when required.

Partner at PwC Alastair Woods said: “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, 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 to help and underpin this transition.”

Earlier this month (November), Claire Walker – co-executive director of policy and campaigns at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – explained that flexible working could in fact be the answer to reducing the skills gap and giving productivity in the UK a serious boost.

She went on to say that what the BCC often hears is that there are talented people out there who have had to seek out roles that they’re overqualified for, or which pay less, because they need flexibility. This means that people are often left working below their skill base in part-time positions, Business Leader reports.

Ms Walker also made mention of a report published by the Harvard Business Review that suggests home or remote working could help increase productivity, as well as driving down the costs to employers in terms of office space and reducing the impact that commuting can have on the environment.

Flexible working can help to retain institutional knowledge as well as the top talent, while promoting both diversity and inclusion, and breeding a positive staff culture. This means that people will be more valued for the contribution they make to the company, rather than the amount of time spent in the office.

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