2 out of 5 CEOs believed their company will no longer be viable in next decade

PwC’s 2023 Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which details the responses of nearly 54 000 workers across 46 countries and territories, highlights that skills gaps were growing.

PwC’s 2023 Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which details the responses of nearly 54 000 workers across 46 countries and territories, highlights that skills gaps were growing.

Published Jun 23, 2023


Some two out of five CEOs in South Africa believed that their company would no longer be economically viable a decade from now. Therefore, building business resilience was critical, according to PwC’s 26th Annual Global CEO Survey.

This was as the pressure to optimise costs and maximise productivity was at the forefront of all business leaders’ minds.

Today, this pressure was further exacerbated by disruptive technology, the increasing complexity of geopolitics and global trade, evolving risk and regulation, and the ongoing race to find and keep the right talent with the right skills.

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader, said businesses were grappling with a continuous and speedy work, workplace and workforce evolution. ‘’Going forward, a new norm will become more prevalent-that is, managing teams of three which will see managers overseeing the workforce, borrowed skills (contingent workers) and bots. Getting this right amidst constant change and disruption is no small task. The more prepared a business is to manage a state of continuous change, the less destructive and long-lived the disruption will be for the enterprise,’’ du Plessis said.

In the firm's newly released report, Your workforce: your value driver, it took a more detailed look at whether the workforce was ready for reinvention, how to prepare for the future of work, and the value of Strategic Workforce Planning in an effort to build business resilience.

PwC’s 2023 Global Hopes and Fears Survey, which details the responses of nearly 54 000 workers across 46 countries and territories, highlights that skills gaps were growing.

A majority of employees did not display the urgency to upskill, as only 39% of employees believed their job would require a significant change in the next five years. Of those who believed that the skills their job requires would need to change significantly, only 71% have a clear sense of how. However, what was very clear was that employees with specialist skills were more ready for reinvention, recognising the need for upskilling and how to upskill.

Bernice Wessels, PwC South Africa People Analytics Leader, said to be prepared for the future world of work, specialist skills would be needed at scale to deliver CEOs’ plans for reinventing business strategies. ‘’The clear disjuncture between executives’ outlook on their business and employees’ belief in their skill set to deliver what is required highlights the need for business strategies to prioritise the development of tangible skills that will be able to execute on these strategies.”

In an effort to do this, Wessels said organisations needed to be proactive, agile and embrace technology to undertake the projection of how work, workers and the workplace will evolve. “With up to 85% of costs tied up in people, leaders will need to predict their strategic and operational requirements and allocate resources accordingly,” she said.

In order to align business reinvention strategies with the skills needed to bring them to life, it was fundamental for executives to proactively anticipate the future of work to assess possible implications on the workforce. “Through a qualitative and quantitative exercise, organisations are able to make sure they have the right people with the right competencies in place to achieve their business strategies,” du Plessis said.

What remained imperative here was that organisations prioritise a ‘skills first’ approach and, in essence, have a clear mandate to attract and retain the right talent with relevant skills despite economic shifts and global disruptions.

In the report, the company outlined eight steps involved in the SWP process, which speaks to the process of building business resilience. Nomalungelo Biyela, PwC South Africa People Analytics Senior Manager, said the purpose of SWP was to “enable organisations to realise their dream workforce by gaining insight into workforce flows and optimisation of people interventions.”

In the report, the firm detail how organisations could leverage SWP to interrogate the possible impacts of business closure on the workforce, as well as how it could be used to model an organisation’s holistic future workforce requirement (not just from a human element, but also bots as they relate to the technology aspect of SWP).

Du Plessis said by incorporating lessons learned and leading global practices and standards, proper SWP could help South African businesses withstand disruption and reduce the overall impacts of various disruptions.

“The four basic principles of SWP are to ensure that your organisation has the right people with the right skills in the right place and time, and at the right cost. It has never been clearer; organisations need a strong workforce strategy that helps them take action today to prepare for tomorrow’s world of work. By understanding the possibilities of automation, organisations can harness the potential of human skills and the needs of the business in a changing global business landscape to nurture and incentivise the people they need for the digital age.”