Talent crunch hampers business expansion [survey]

In a global survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, results show that 24% of CEO's globally have directed delays or indeed cancellations on key strategic corporate initiatives due to talent shortages. It is no surprise that skills shortages are a 'top threat' to business growth and in a developing country like India, a sibling to South Africa in the BRICS, it is one of the top strategic issues. The article below, published in the Business Standard, outlines some of the reactions of Indian executives and the key industries affected. 

'41% CEOs in India delayed plans due to talent crunch'

About 41 per cent of chief executive officers (CEO) in India have cancelled or delayed a key strategic initiative because of skills shortage, an annual global CEO survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) states. In China, the figure stood at 31 per cent, while it was 24 per cent globally. However, the chief executives are optimistic about the availability of talent.

The survey said skills shortages were seen as a top threat to business expansion. Globally, one in four CEOs said they were unable to pursue a market opportunity or had to cancel or delay a strategic initiative because of talent shortage. One among three CEOs were concerned that this shortages impacted their company’s ability to innovate effectively.

"Talent is the most strategic issue for a country like India. The country is tremendously short on talent. There is a gap between what comes out of technical institutes and what the industry needs," Baba Kalyani, chairman and managing director, Bharat Forge, said in the survey.

Indian CEOs were more optimistic about talent availability and short-term growth prospects, as compared to their global peers. Around 76 per cent of Indian CEOs were willing to take the onus of training the available talent. They expressed interest in investing in vocational training programmes, as compared to the 54 per cent by their global peers.

The CEOs across all industries, said in the survey it had become more difficult to hire, but the challenges were acute in knowledge industries like pharmaceuticals and life sciences, technology, and in heavy industries, such as industrial manufacturing and automotive.

While 53 per cent of global CEOs expected to move experienced people from the home market to newer markets to fill skill gaps, reverse transfers involving moving top performers in emerging markets into developed markets for a short period to become 'credentialised', could also be effective retention and development measures, said the survey.

Padmaja Alaganandan, executive director (consulting), PwC India, said, "CEOs in India, in particular, are optimistic about their companies’ growth prospects. While it is heartening to note that Indian CEO’s have expressed high confidence in their ability to find talent, it appears that they may be underestimating the extent of this challenge today. Investment in skills and capability building remains a key requirement and if not addressed swiftly with appropriate initiatives, we could see a situation where lack of talent could stifle expansion and innovation."

The study was based on a survey of 1,258 CEOs across 60 countries between September 22 and December 12, 2011.