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Recruiting or reskilling – what makes business sense for regional companies?

Recruiting or reskilling – what makes business sense for regional companies?

Adapting and increasing employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience

As commercial activities resume in the UAE, following the government’s announcement to reopen the country, the immediate focus for many organisations is managing their financial risks, while exploring ways of transforming their workforce to drive productivity, innovation and growth.

As we navigate our way through this ‘new normal’, we can see positive signs of economic recovery, but effectively managing the impact of Covid-19 on the workforce remains a primary concern for business leaders in the region.

According to PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, Middle East CFOs are still more likely to expect layoffs – 39 per cent compared to 25 per cent globally.

This is even more pronounced in the UAE, where 51 per cent of CFOs expect to see layoffs in the next month.

The time has come for business leaders to shift from crisis mobilisation and stabilisation to a new set of more enduring, strategic goals.

Far too often reskilling has been designated as an investment when times are financially stable, but our current situation presents an accelerated need for reskilling and training.

As our world is turned on its head, employees are expected to be increasingly agile and to fulfil more than one role. They are also often redeployed to take on different – and often crucial – roles that require the addition of new skills in a fast changed, digitally-led world.

Ironically, the very skills that are needed at this time are the soft skills – emotional intelligence, communication and nimble, entrepreneurial thinking – and they need to be learnt.

What is it that really makes business sense: recruiting or reskilling?

Choosing to manage by balance sheet alone by laying off staff in your organisation is a short-term tactic that could be to the long-term detriment of the business.

Not only is it significantly more costly to hire new talent, but onboarding and upskilling takes time when you are again looking to expand your workforce – time that could see you lose competitive advantage in your particular market.

The cost to recruit and onboard new employees post-pandemic is likely to far outnumber that of reskilling current employees, notwithstanding the inordinate value of team loyalty, well-being and a willingness to not just show up, but to step up in times of crisis.

Despite the current challenges, businesses in the UAE are showing promising commitment to building skills in the workplace.

According to the third edition of PwC’s COVID-19 CFO Pulse Survey, more than 64 per cent of their leadership is confident in their business’s ability to build skills for the future – a number far above the global average of 48 per cent.

Now is the time to consider as a top priority, your company’s reskilling strategies and critical training budgets to protect and enable the needs of the business -identifying both short and long-term skillsets that will bring you the most value.

Adapting and increasing employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience.

Organisations that ensure their employees are adequately trained will be best positioned to leverage it for future growth.

Amanda Line is a partner at PwC and PwC’s Academy leader

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