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Earlier last year, global professional services firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, released their 14th Annual Global CEO survey, Growth Reimagined. Across 69 countries, 1201 business leaders responded to a range of questions about issues impacting and expected to impact their business.  
In response to the question ‘How concerned are you about the following potential economic and policy/business threats to your business growth prospects?’, the issue Availability of Key Skills moved from 8th place in 2010 to 4th place in 2011 (The Economy rated at #1 in both years).   

However, in terms of issues over which a CEO has direct control, talent has returned to number #1  .  
This is shown when CEOs were asked the question ‘In response to changes in the global business environment, to what extent do you anticipate changes to any of the following areas of your company’s organisation or operating model over the next 12 months?’  
Strategies for managing talent was cited by 31% of CEOs as the area of their business that would undergo the most significant change (ahead of Investment Decision, 28% and Organisational Structure, 27%).   

Specifically these strategic changes would involve:  

·                Deploying more staff to international assignments  

·                Using more non-financial rewards to motivate staff  

·                Working with government/education systems to improve skills in the talent pool  

·                Incentivising young workers  differently than others  

·                Changing policies to attract and retain more women    

·                Recruiting and attempting to retain older workers    

Most interesting was the range of responses to the question ‘Considering the talent required for the success of the business over the next three years, what are the key challenges you expect to face?’, the top 6 responses were:   

·                Limited supply of candidates with the right skills (nominated by 66% of respondents)  

·                Challenges recruiting and integrating younger staff (54%)  

·                Competitors recruiting some of your best people (52%)  

·                Proving attractive careers paths in your industry (50%)  

·                Difficulty in deploying experienced talent globally (44%)  

·                Technically skilled talent lack creativity/flexibility (42%)   

The future of the recruitment agency sector looks very healthy as long as we continue to supply the right candidates with the right skills, quickly and cost-effectively.   

The distinction between the ‘right’ skills and not-the-right skills is becoming clearer to all types of companies.   

How recruitment agencies prove, rather than assert, that the candidates they find and refer have the desired skills, and communicate this proof to clients, will be a defining aspect of the battle for above-average growth and profits in the coming years.

This is a topic I will expand further upon in 2012 as the right tools for proving these skills are now easier to find, more efficient to use and cheaper to incorporate into all recruitment processes.

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