Skills shortages 'a threat to our future'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 May, 2012, 12:00am


Working your way up the ladder is one thing, but achieving the bigger objectives requires another set of business skills: leadership, management, creative thinking, and strategic planning. What concerns senior executives in Hong Kong - and across Asia - is an apparent dearth of these qualities among youngsters hoping to climb the corporate ladder.

'[With companies] aggressively investing in China, there is an unprecedented demand for executives with the right kind of leadership and managerial skills,' says Miranda Shu, Greater China human capital business leader for consultancy firm Mercer. 'However, supply is limited, partly due to the fact that the traditional education system is not set up to train this type of talent, and the required skills need to be accumulated over time.'

Shu's comments are supported by findings from a Mercer survey on the future of talent management in China. Only 13 per cent of organisations questioned said they were 'very confident' of their ability to ensure an adequate pipeline of up-and-coming managers. Over 40 per cent said succession planning for long-term leadership would pose a major challenge.

'The lack of managerial skills will make it difficult for companies to identify business opportunities,' says Shu, predicting an impact on productivity levels that could last more than 20 years. '[Executives] will not be adept enough to take initiatives and make sound decisions based on limited information.'

Results from the PwC 15th Annual Global CEO Survey 2012 and The Conference Board's CEO Challenge 2012, highlighted the same broad consensus. Respondents for the latter cited innovation and human capital as their chief concerns, adding that deficiencies could significantly reduce growth in sectors such as insurance, technology and pharmaceuticals.

Rebecca Ray, The Conference Board's senior vice-president for human capital, says she sees no quick fix in sight.