In the media

All leaders should ask themselves – do my employees still have the right skills?

Johanne Olsen Tanja Juul Christiansen Astrid Kamille

By Johanne Rønnow Olsen, Tanja Juul Christiansen, Astrid Kamille Falk-Sørensen


22 August 2023

The skills shortage threatens growth. Around the world, companies are facing the same megatrends that they must, at best, proactively respond to and, at worst, reactively adapt to: new technology, climate change and macroeconomic developments.

The first two trends in particular mean that companies will not need the same competencies, and that the needs will constantly change and evolve. According to the World Economic Forum, half of us will need to retrain or upskill within the next few years.

Being able to figure out how to look ahead to the long-term can be a challenge in itself in times of crisis.

We mostly see that during times of crisis, organisations' strategic focus is downgraded to solve here-and-now problems. But if you as a company want to do more than just survive, long-term solutions must be developed – and you need to find out what skills are needed in the future.

It is simply the case that it is only if you have the courage to get out of the routine and stop and understand your core business that you will gain the opportunity to create the innovation that is imperative to ensure a more sustainable development of the business.

Unfortunately, only a few companies work continuously, over the long-term and strategically to attract, associate and develop competencies.

And those companies often end up recruiting or buying their way out of the problem, depending on what's easiest, rather than what's strategically smartest.

Three key challenges

When we talk to managers in Danish companies, there are three challenges that recur:

1. There is a lack of clarity about what skills are needed when looking three years ahead. Here we are not talking about gut feelings, but real data and knowledge.

2. There is a lack of timely and continuous action to ensure that you have the right mix of competencies going forward.

This applies not only to recruitment and possible use of external resources, but also to a large extent to how competencies should be built and developed internally.

3. There is a lack of integration across the board, so HR, procurement, finance and the business have a common picture of what the needs are going forward and, not least, can figure out how to work together on meeting them.

If companies are to succeed in what they have set out to do, it will be crucial that they are able to be much more proactive and long-term in their workforce strategies than before and have a well-considered plan for what they want to recruit for, what they want to borrow and what they want to build.”

And there will be a need to build. To develop competences. To redefine and upskill the workforce we already have. This is not a one-off, but a continuous task that no company can expect everyone else to take care of.

Future needs

The planning for the strategic goals and the competencies that those goals require must be initiated and executed now. Every business will need new knowledge, new learning and an innovative curiosity. And with those needs comes a responsibility.

A responsibility to develop the necessary competencies that can secure a leading position in the future. A responsibility to constantly keep your business relevant.

So ask yourselves: What will the future needs be? What will your future access to competences be? What characterizes your ability to attract and link to competencies right now?

And once you know that, think about what your strategy should be? Is it possible to attract skills, or is it necessary to buy or build them yourself? What will it require of you? How can you integrate your processes so that you get the most out of the competencies you already have?

There is a need for you, as the leaders of the future, to take action – and do so today. Challenge or opportunity – you choose.

This article was first published in Danish Børsen.

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