But one issue has ranked first every year, and in the latest survey drew as many as 86% of respondents who were “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned: The availability of key skills. Looking more closely at what skills they worry about, we find that as many as 62% of CEOs find it “very” or “somewhat” difficult to recruit for digital talent, compared with 50% globally.
How is that possible in a region that’s known for its strong education in the hard sciences and for having one of the highest proportions in the world of IT and technology specialists per capita? One clue lies in another response: 97% of CEOs in the region agree or strongly agree that their companies need to strengthen soft skills alongside digital skills.
The fact is that companies from around the globe have discovered our region’s deep talent pool, and since digital skills are portable, many of the brightest people in the region are lured to the global players. Companies in our region need to compete with the big names, and they need to do it with more than just money; today’s young people are looking for employment that offers them purpose and fulfilment, so companies are finding it necessary to invest in leadership and other soft skills if they want to compete with the rest of the world.
While the survey shows that managers in our region tend to rely on traditional forms of training and employee development as tools to attract and develop digital talent, they also need to look at methods their global peers are using, such as implementing new flexible ways of working, and collaborating with educational institutions.
Central and Eastern European companies are in a global competition for top talent, and they need to look for new ways of persuading the region’s talented young people to stay home and use their skills here. The competition will be won not by throwing more money at people, but by building engagement through flexible working hours, new office environments and most of all instilling a sense of corporate purpose that employees can identify with.