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While we remain in the throes of a pandemic, talent concerns—including recruiting and retention, skills development, capacity, and availability—have emerged as a threat to the global economic outlook. In fact, recent data shows there were more job openings in the United States this spring than before the pandemic hit in March 2020. There were also fewer people in the labor force, which suggests that the millions of workers who were displaced during the pandemic are still on the sidelines of the job market.

In addition to the talent shortfall, employers are continuing to see a skills gap among both their current employees and new hires, particularly in today’s hybrid environment driven by digital processes. Even before the pandemic, corporate leaders were voicing concerns about threats to their business from the global skills shortage. PwC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO survey found that the number of business leaders who expressed concerns was already high in 2019, averaging 79 percent.

As the workforce skills gap continues to hinder employers, and companies look to attract and retain talent that can meet their business objectives, upskilling should be a central focus of talent strategies. Once new hires are made, companies must help workers rapidly climb the learning curve so they can develop the skills needed for their jobs—today and in the future—and fill the voids of the talent shortfall. No longer just a work perk offered by some employers, upskilling should instead be treated as a critical worker benefit on par with paid time off and retirement plans.

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