Cyber threats and the availability of skills remain the top business concerns for UK CEOs according to PwC’s 21st annual CEO Survey published at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
While optimism remains high, the PwC CEO Survey findings suggest businesses are braced for more challenging times ahead.
Kevin Ellis, chairman and senior partner of PwC, said: “Robust confidence levels among UK CEOs points to resilience in uncertain times, but this is tempered by a big dose of realism about the challenges ahead.
“Brexit uncertainty, regulation, availability of skills and cyber are key concerns but business leaders remain confident they can navigate through them.”
UK CEOs are also acutely aware of the disruption emerging technologies, such as AI, blockchain and robotics, could cause, with 69 per cent agreeing emerging technology and automation will disrupt their business over the next five years.
Ensuring they can attract and develop the right talent is a top priority for 83 per cent of UK CEOs, compared to 80 per cent globally.
77 per cent say they are improving compensation and benefit packages to attract or develop people with digital skills.
62 per cent of UK CEOs don’t believe they currently have sufficient digital skills amongst their workforce and 53 per cent are concerned about the availability of skills more generally.
Upskilling existing employees is as vital as creating the next generation of tech talent. More than half of UK CEOs recognise they have a responsibility to retrain employees whose tasks and jobs may be impacted by automation.
63 per cent are using or plan to use apprenticeships and internships to grow their workforce, while developing the skills they need for today and tomorrow.
Ellis continued: “Disruption from emerging technology is now a fact of life and business leaders are considering how the fourth industrial revolution will impact their operations and employees.
“At the same time, they also have the day-to-day demands of managing costs and growing their businesses.
“How UK businesses respond to these short and long-term opportunities and challenges will determine their own and the UK’s future success.
“Business and the government have the opportunity to work together to help current and future employees develop skills that keep pace with technological change.
“Creating the next generation of skilled workers as well as attracting and retaining tech talent will be essential in a post-Brexit world.
“Many CEOs are already focused on modernising working environments, introducing flexible working and implementing continuous learning and development programmes.
“The more that UK CEOs take the lead and innovate, the greater the likelihood that the UK will maintain its competitive position on the international stage.”