Finding key skills top threat to growth for CEOs: Survey

52 per cent expecting to boost head count in 2013

While 62 per cent of CEOs around the world cited policy concerns over taxes as their top threat to growth, Canadian CEOs said they are more concerned about finding key skills in their workforce (63 per cent), according to a survey by PwC looking at key items on the agendas of CEOs in 68 countries.

Also concerns are the speed of technological change (45 per cent) and their ability to finance growth (43 per cent), found thesurvey of 1,330 CEOs, including 120 Canadians.

Canadian CEOs feel the government should focus its efforts on creating and supporting a skilled workforce, with 72 per cent saying this should be the government's top priority. More than three-quarters (76 per cent) of Canadian respondents said they will be increasing their investment in developing a skilled workforce and more than one-half (52 per cent) expect to increase their headcount in 2013.

Sixty per cent of Canadian CEOs said they are very confident about their company's prospects over the next three years and have a higher confidence level than their global counterparts (46 per cent), found PwC. About one-half (49 per cent) of Canadian CEOs said they expect the economy to stay the same in 2013 while 26 per cent expect some improvement. Last year, 48 per cent said things would get worse in 2012 and 15 per cent expected improvement, found PwC.

"Canada is a global leader when it comes to stability in our financial sector and Canadian CEOs are responding with greater confidence about their company's prospects,” said Bill McFarland, PwC Canada's CEO. β€œAt the same time, our CEOs are watching the economic environment south of the border carefully and paying close attention to the responses of governments in Canada and around the world to how they are managing their deficits and the debt burden."

Developing future business leaders

Canadian CEOs take a more inclusive approach to decision-making as one-half said all of their staff are encouraged to get involved in strategic decision-making, compared to 31 per cent globally.

Canadian CEOs also said involving staff below board level in strategic decision-making was effective in engaging their people and developing a pipeline of future leaders (88 per cent versus 79 per cent globally), found the survey. CEOs also stay active in succession planning, with 85 per cent saying they are identifying multiple successors for their jobs.

"We are seeing an increasing tendency to flatten the hierarchy that exists in many organizations as more CEOs delegate decision-making and empower people. Nine out of 10 CEOs in our survey said this was an effective way to develop their people as part of succession planning,” said McFarland.

However, Canadian CEOs are less likely to provide global mobility and international experience opportunities to develop their leadership pipeline than other countries including the United States, the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) economies, the European Union and Australia. Only 39 per cent of Canadian CEOs use global mobility as a development tool, compared to the global average of 61 per cent.

Moreover, Canadian CEOs are less inclined to say global opportunities are an effective way to develop their leaders (66 per cent compared to the global average of 83 per cent), found PwC.

"This could be a risk as the global economy changes rapidly and there is an increasing need for Canadian business to penetrate new markets, understand the global marketplace and be a significant player on the world stage,” said McFarland.

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