CEOs are more concerned about the impact of a skills shortage on their business than at any point in the last six years, according to new research by PwC.\nCEOs are now finding it so difficult to find people with the skills they need to grow their business that three quarters of the 1,300 CEOs interviewed by PwC rank skills shortage as the biggest threat to their business.\nThis represents a 10 percentage point jump from 2014 and is up from less than half (46 per cent) six years ago, says PwC.\nIn New Zealand, 84 per cent of respondents (up from last year\u2019s figure of 80 per cent) say the availability of key skills is a threat to their organisation\u2019s growth prospects.\nBusinesses desperately need hi-tech innovators and \u2018hybrid\u2019 workers who understand not only their own sector, but complex digital technology as well, says PwC in the report People strategy for the digital age.\n CEOs are fully focused on the role digital technology plays in engaging customers; so why are they ignoring its value when it comes to engaging employees? PwC\n\u201cThe digital age has transformed the skills shortage from a nagging worry for CEOs into something far more challenging,\u201d says Scott Mitchell, PwC Partner and business adviser.\n\u201cDespite rising business confidence and ambitious hiring plans, businesses are faced with a complex and shifting world where technology is driving huge changes,\u201d says Mitchell.\n\u201cPeople with strong technology skills that can adapt and work across different industries are desperately needed, but these people are difficult to find and can afford to charge a premium for their skills. New places, geographies and new pools of talent must be looked at - organisations can\u2019t afford to recruit people as they\u2019ve always done,\u201d says Mitchell.\nAn overwhelming majority \u2013 81 per cent \u2013 of the CEOs say they are looking for a much broader range of skills.\nUnsurprisingly, the report states, tech skills are in high demand, with three-quarters of business leaders believing that specific hiring and training strategies to integrate digital technologies throughout the organisation are essential for success in the digital age.\nThis is creating a \u2018gig economy\u2019, where workers with the most in-demand skills can dictate where and when they work, and who they work for.\nGlobal and virtual working continues to alter understanding of how and where work is carried out, but now a newer development has added to the mix \u2013 the rise of \u2018workers on demand\u2019, the report states.\nA third of CEOs said they had greatly increased their use of contingent workers, part-time employees, outsourcing and service agreements. In other words, \u2018talent\u2019 no longer means \u2018employees\u2019 \u2013 and that has far-reaching consequences for people management\nFilling talent gaps is also a major driver for mergers and acquisitions, with over a quarter of CEOs saying that access to top talent is the main reason for collaborating with other organisations.\nOrganisations are likewise rethinking their talent mix and exploring the potential of automation. In addition, CEOs have woken up to the value of diversity \u2013 of thinking and experience \u2013 to create value in the digital age, reports PwC.\nBusinesses feel that governments play an important role in solving the skills gap \u2013 six in 10 CEOs, both globally and in New Zealand, said creating a skilled and adaptable workforce should be a top priority for government.\nThe report, meanwhile, finds less than half of organisations consistently use analytics to provide insight into how effectively skills are being deployed.\nIt asks, \u201cCEOs are fully focused on the role digital technology plays in engaging customers; so why are they ignoring its value when it comes to engaging employees?\u201d\n\u201cThe abundance of information \u2013 from both internal and external sources \u2013 is the richest possible mine when it comes to understanding the employer brand, employee engagement and what employees want and need from the organisation. The vital, and apparently missing, step is to transform the data collected into strategic advantage.\u201d\nThe report calls on CEOs to make \u201cbold decisions\u201d and look for an HR function that \u201cis innovative, analytical, predictive and supportive\u201d.\nSend news tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.