New findings from the Barometer on Change cast the UK skills shortage into sharp relief. The 2015/16 Barometer, produced by business transformation consultancy Moorhouse and now in its fourth year, found 97 per cent of Board members and their direct reports admit they need new or additional skills to successfully deliver their strategies.

Sixty-six per cent reported needing these new capabilities to a great or fair extent, an increase of six per cent from 2014. Respondents to the survey were drawn from FTSE 250 companies, UK multinationals and major public sector organisations across a variety of industries.

Such high demand for new capabilities comes alongside a rapidly rising need for businesses to demonstrate greater agility. Nearly seven in ten (69%) reported an increase in the pace and pressure of change in 2015, while 80 per cent anticipated this would only rise further over the next three years.

Richard Jones, Partner at Moorhouse, warns: “The need for organisations to adapt to or anticipate a constantly renewing market is clearly on the rise.  But with organisations reporting a diminishing ability to deal with that change in-house, their potential for growth – or in severe cases survival, has to be called into question.”

Those reporting a need for new skills or abilities to a great or fair extent rose from 51 per cent in 2013 to 66 per cent in 2015, while respondents claiming they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ confident in their ability to access those skills fell from 47 per cent to just 30 per cent in the same period.  What is not clear is whether this widening gap is the result of over-eager cost-cutting in previous years, or a finally expanding economy spurring greater innovation, creating the need for a ‘new generation’ of capability.

“Securing future growth absolutely requires the right people with the right skills,” emphasises Richard Goold, Partner at Moorhouse.  “For the more than three-quarters of organisations that are looking at acquiring those skills either purely externally or through some external/in-house combination, it will be imperative to ensure that focused recruitment and development efforts help transfer and sustain the required skills for such transformations.”

The Barometer on Change 2015/16 surveyed 200 Board members and their direct reports in UK organisations. Respondents had a combined spend on change initiatives of £5.1 billion (compared to £4.2bn in 2014), with an average project spend per respondent of over £25 million.

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