60+ statistics that explain why a skills-based approach should be every CEO’s top priority

Skills, not jobs, must become the currency of work for organisations that want to thrive in the future, say experts

In the past couple of years, technology has reshaped the way we work irrevocably, forcing a corresponding shift in the labour market. The skills in demand, for instance, are frequently changing, requiring organisations and people to constantly pivot to stay relevant. These changes haven’t been easy. While some of us have embraced them, others have been forced to adapt, kicking and screaming.

Whatever our attitude towards it, this change is here to stay, and its emergence has highlighted an old problem: How do you match individuals to opportunities in the most efficient manner?

Several experts (see here, here and here) have suggested that shifting to a skills-based workplace is the best way forward. Skills are the “currency” of the new labour market, they say, urging business leaders to embrace a skills-first approach.

“Shifting to a system where skills are the core currency of the labour market thus has the potential to tackle existing inefficiencies in job-fit between employers and employees; help prepare for a near-future of greater volatility in the labour market; and enhance opportunity, prosperity and equality for workers,” said a WEF report.

In an article titled A Skills-First Blueprint to Better Job Outcomes, LinkedIn’s Chief Economist Karen Kimbrough wrote: “As jobs evolve and demand new skills, hiring managers will need to increasingly focus less on traditional proxies like degrees, and more on finding talent whose current skills match the role. We’ve started to see this take off on LinkedIn – as 40% of hirers now use skills data when hiring on LinkedIn, up 20% compared to a year prior. And in 2021 alone,  LinkedIn helped 400K+ companies make a skill-based hire.”

But organisations are woefully ill-equipped to shift to a skills-based system. 

Business and HR leaders from more than 4,000 organisations surveyed for PWC’s Future of Work and Skills Survey in 2021 said that one of the most significant challenges they faced in the workforce was identifying the skills workers will need in the future due to changing technology. But they indicated they were uncertain about the most effective way to deal with it. “It’s imperative that businesses make investments in systems that inventory and maintain an inventory of current skills and that support visualisation of gaps in future skills,” the report recommended.

Another report, titled Building the future-ready workforce, by Deloitte, said:  “Only 17% of organisations believe they’re able to anticipate the skills they’ll require to any great extent, and only 16% expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years. Combined, this lack of information and investment threatens to thwart organisations’ efforts to build the workforces they’ll need in both the short and long term.”

As business leaders across the globe consider the whether they need to make this shift or not, we have collected a few skills statistics to help you make an informed decision.

The list has links to the actual sources wherever available. Please go to the “Sources” section at the very end of the article to view all the sources.

Why skills should be every CEO's top priority

The changing nature of the workforce

  1. The world will need to reskill more than 1 billion people by 2030 because of technology-led changes in the workplace. (WEF, 2020A)
  2. 58% of the workforce needs new skills to get their jobs done. (Gartner, 2021)
  3. The skill sets for jobs have changed by around 25% since 2015. By 2027, this number is expected to double. (LinkedIn, 2022A)
  4. Nearly 70% of those surveyed anticipate generative AI will increase competition, drive changes to their business models and require new skills from their workforce within the next three years. PWC, 2024
  5. 77% of business executives agree their organization should help their workers become more employable with relevant skills, but only 5% strongly agree they are investing enough in helping people learn new skills to keep up with the changing world of work. (Deloitte, 2022A)
  6. 80% of workers, HR and business leaders agree that jobs are no longer the best way to organize work. Both fractionalizing work (breaking it down into projects or tasks) and broadening work (focusing work around solving problems or achieving outcomes, can create value for workers and organizations. (Deloitte, 2022B)
  7. In the 12 months ending June 2021, LinkedIn saw a 21% increase in job postings advertising skills and responsibilities instead of qualifications and requirements in the US, and the number of positions that don’t require a degree increased by nearly 40% in 2020 compared to 2019. (HBR, 2021)
  8. Between 2022 and 2023, more than 45% of hirers on LinkedIn explicitly used skills data to fill their roles, up 12% year over year. Roughly one in five job postings (19%) in the US no longer requires degrees, up from 15% in 2021. (LinkedIn, 2023)

    Organisations are unprepared to tackle challenges of skills shortages
  9. 75% of companies globally are struggling to find skilled workers. In the US, this figure is 70%. (Manpower Group, 2024)
  10. More than 75% of respondents of board members and executives surveyed globally regard skills and talent availability as a major source of risk. (Deloitte, 2024)
  11. 72% of CEOs surveyed say that talent gaps and shortages represent the top business challenge that their companies face. (BCG, 2023A)
  12. 52% of CEOs surveyed responded that lack of skills in the company’s workforce was one of the factors inhibiting the company from changing the way it creates, delivers and captures value. (PwC, 2024)
  13. 46% respondents say the skills gap is wider at their organisation (up 4 percentage points) since 2021. (LinkedIn, 2022)
  14. 49% respondents say executives are concerned that employees do not have the right skills to execute business strategy (up 9 percentage points from 2021). (LinkedIn, 2022)
  15. In many organizations, between 20 and 30 percent of critical roles aren’t filled by the most appropriate people. (McKinsey, 2023)
  16. 60% of businesses say that skills gaps in the local labour market hold back the transformation of their business – the top barrier globally. Only 39% of businesses report a positive outlook for talent availability in the next five years. (WEF, 2024.)
  17. 83% of respondents reported that they had trouble recruiting suitable candidates in the preceding 12 months, with 75% of those reporting recruitment difficulties saying that they believed there was a skills shortage among their applicants. (SHRM, 2019)
  18. 42% of companies say green skills they will grow in importance in the next five years and 21% will place a strategic focus on developing them in their workforce. (WEF, 2024.)
  19. 90% of respondents said that the accelerating need for organisations to change at scale and speed was important to their success over the next 10 years, yet only 55% felt that their organisations were ready to change at the scale and speed required. (Deloitte, 2020)
  20. Only 10% of HR executives say they effectively classify and organize skills into a skills taxonomy or framework-although nearly all (85%) have some efforts underway. (Deloitte, 2022B)

    Benefits of a skills-based approach
  21. Organizations that embed a skills-based approach are 63% more likely to achieve results than those that have not adopted skills-based practices. (Deloitte, 2022B)
  22. Organizations with a skills-based approach are 57% more likely to be agile. (Deloitte, 2022A)
  23. Using a skills-based approach predicts job success for entry-level employees five times better than education requirements. (Hunter & Hunter, 1984)
  24. Skills-based hires have a 9% lengthier tenure at their organizations compared with traditional hires. (BCG, 2023)
  25. Globally, talent pools expand nearly 10x when using a skills-first approach. In the US, this figure is 19x. (LinkedIn, 2023)
  26. Skills-based hiring is believed to reduce turnover. Employees without a traditional four-year degree stay 34% longer than those with such a degree. (LinkedIn, 2021)
  27. Companies that excel at internal mobility [because they follow a skills-based approach] retain employees for an average of 5.4 years, nearly twice as long as companies that struggle with it, where the average retention span is 2.9 years. (LinkedIn, 2022).
  28. Workers who have made an internal move at their organization at the two-year mark have a 75% chance of remaining there, compared to 56% for those who haven’t. (LinkedIn, 2023)
  29. 79% of L&D pros agree: It’s less expensive to reskill a current employee than to hire a new one.  (LinkedIn, 2022)

    Employees are aware of the changing workforce but organisations need to catch up
  30. 65% of workers report that the skills and capabilities required to perform their jobs have changed in the past two years. (Deloitte, 2022B)
  31. Fifty-eight percent of employees surveyed believe that the skills their job requires will change significantly in the next five years and 66% feel they have a clear sense of how the skills their job requires will change in that time. (WEF, 2024)
  32. 73% of employees feel organisations are primarily responsible for workforce development. (Deloitte, 2022)
  33. Workers are willing to share their skills data (79%) to help their organizations make decisions such as matching them to work. Another 14% are willing but only if the data is used responsibly, and they earn benefits in return. (Deloitte, 2022B)
  34. Forty-six percent of workers say their formal qualifications are not relevant to their job, yet only 6% of global businesses believe that removing degree requirements would improve talent availability in their organization. (WEF, 2024.)
  35. 87% of workers surveyed said that they believe they will need to develop new skills throughout their working lives to keep up with the changes in the workplace. (Pew, 2016)
  36. 74% employees surveyed are ready to learn new skills or re-train to remain employable in the future. (PWC, 2017)
  37. 90% of workers say they need to update their skills at least yearly. (Deloitte, 2022)
  38. Employees who feel that their skills are not being put to good use in their current job are 10 times more likely to be looking for a new job than those who feel that their skills are being put to good use. (LinkedIn, 2022)
  39. Only 47% of workers surveyed think that their company is making a significant investment in their professional development. Less than 34% of executives are happy with their organisation’s investment in their development. (Deloitte, 2020A)
  40. Organisations that invest in skills development have better business results. Eighty-four percent of workers at high-performing organisations say they have received the training they need to do their jobs well compared to 16% in worst-performing companies. (IBM, 2014)

    Essential human skills or soft skills
  41. As automation changes the job market, 92% of talent professionals and hiring managers agree that candidates with strong soft skills are increasingly important. (LinkedIn, 2019)
  42. Demand for transportable skills –­ those that are applicable across departments and industries – outpaces that for all other skills. The transportable skills of communication, problem solving, collaboration and critical and creative thinking are the four most-required skills in the entire labour market. A fifth transportable skill – ethical reasoning and mindset – is in greater demand than 99.8% of all skills tracked. (PLTW and Burning Glass, 2018)
  43. 85% of all industries across the economic spectrum seek out at least one transportable skill. (PLTW and Burning Glass, 2018)
  44. 74% of occupations at low risk of automation request transportable skills in a majority of openings, whereas jobs with a high risk of automation request transportable skills in just 48% of occupations. (PLTW and Burning Glass, 2018)
  45. 89% of those surveyed said bad hires typically have poor soft skills. (LinkedIn, 2019)

    Some organisations are aware of the importance of a skills-based approach
  46. 74% of organisations say reskilling their workforce is important or very important to their success over the next 12-18 months, while just over half (53%) say that between half and all their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities in the next three years. (Deloitte, 2020B)
  47. Only 14% of business executives strongly agree that their organization is using the workforce’s skills and capabilities to their fullest potential. (Deloitte, 2022A)
  48. 14% of HR executives say they are matching skills to teams to create optimal team compositions to a significant extent, and 84% say they are doing so at least to some extent. (Deloitte, 2022A)
  49. Several global companies have invested in reskilling and upskilling.  Amazon announced in 2020 that it is investing more than $700 million to provide upskilling training to its employees. In 2019, JPMorgan Chase announced a $350 million, five-year initiative to upskill its workforce.

    Why organisations must invest in skills analytics
  50. Identifying the skills workers will need in the future due to changing technology was cited as one of the most significant challenges business and HR leaders face in the workforce. Only 26% of respondents strongly agreed they can identify the skills the organisation will need in the future due to technological change. (PWC, 2021)
  51. Fifty-eight percent of workers believe that they have skills that are not clear from their qualifications or job history, and 46% believe that employers focus too much on their job history and too little on their skills. (WEF, 2024)
  52. More than 35% of workers surveyed said they have skills that are not evident from their CV or job histories, indicating companies may be overlooking talent within the ranks. PwC, 2023
  53. Fewer than half of respondents say their organisations have a clear sense of their current skills, and just 41% report that organisations have a clear understanding of the roles that are likely to be disrupted. (McKinsey, 2020)
  54. Only 15% HR and business executives surveyed indicate their organisations are highly effective at analysing the gap between current workforce capabilities and future business requirements. (i4CP, 2021)
  55. 27% believe LinkedIn knows more about their workforces than their organisations do. (i4CP, 2021)
  56. 39% respondents say it's easier for their employees to find jobs externally than internally. (i4CP, 2021)
  57. High-performance organisations – those in the study that have better revenue growth, profit, market share, and customer satisfaction than their competition – are 2x more likely than their low-performing counterparts (47% vs. 21%) to indicate that their workforces are ready for the future. (i4CP, 2021)
  58. 53% agreed that insufficient data about the current skills and capabilities of the workforce was one of the primary barriers to building workforce readiness in their organisation. 47% said a lack of clarity about the skills and capabilities that will be most important going forward was another of the primary barriers to building workforce readiness in their organisation. (i4CP, 2021A)
  59. Only 18% of survey participants said they currently have an employee skills database or inventory. Of them, 8% said their organisations have such a database only for critical roles, leaving only 10% that have a database with profiles for all employees. (i4CP, 2021A)
  60. 53% of respondents said that the inability to identify needed skills was the No. 1 impediment to workforce transformation. (Gartner, 2020)
  61. Only 28% leaders surveyed can definitely identify the skills they need in the future. A similar figure strongly agreed they could rapidly adjust the workforce in response to changes in the market. (PWC, 2021)
  62. 31% reported that they have no way to identify market leading skills. (Gartner, 2020)
  63. Only 23% of respondents strongly agreed they use workforce analytics to monitor and predict skills gaps. The same percentage strongly agreed that they analyse business data to determine near-term skills needed in the organisation. (PWC, 2021)
  64. Only 17% of organisations believe they’re able to anticipate the skills they’ll require to any great extent, and only 16% expect to make significant investments in learning over the next three years. (Deloitte, 2022)
  65. 30% of companies say their employees have needed skills, but few understand workforce capabilities today. (i4cp, 2021)


  1. BCG, 2023: Competence over Credentials: The Rise of Skills-Based Hiring
  2. BCG, 2023A: Creating People Advantage 2023: Set the Right People Priorities for Challenging Times. Boston Consulting Group, November 2023.
  3. Deloitte, 2024: New Deloitte survey reveals a need for boards to place a stronger focus on talent
  4. Deloitte, 2022: Building the future-ready workforce - Unleash the potential of your organization and people
  5. Deloitte, 2022A: The skills-based organization: A new operating model for work and the workforce.
  6. Deloitte, 2022B: Jobs aren’t working anymore: Building tomorrow’s skills-based organization
  7. Deloitte, 2021: Building the future-ready workforce: Unleash the potential of your organisation and people, 2021
  8. Deloitte, 2020: The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward
  9. Deloitte, 2020A: Opportunity marketplaces: Aligning workforce investment and value creation in the enterprise
  10. Deloitte 2020B: Beyond reskilling: Investing in resilience for uncertain futures
  11. Deloitte, 2020: 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Report.
  12. Gartner, 2021: Gartner HR Research Finds 58% of the Workforce Will Need New Skill Sets to Do Their Jobs Successfully
  13. Gartner, 2020: Lack of Skills Threatens Digital Transformation
  14. Gallup, 2017: State of the American Workplace
  15. HBR, 2023: Reskilling in the Age of AI
  16. HBR 2021: You Need a Skills-Based Approach to Hiring and Developing Talent
  17. Hunter & Hunter, 1984: Validity and Utility of Alternative Predictors of Job Performance.
  18. IBM, 2014: IBM, The Value of Training.
  19. i4CP, 2021: Accelerating Total Workforce Readiness, The Institute for Corporate Productivity.
  20. i4CP, 2021A: Organisations are merely guessing in the war on talent
  21. LinkedIn, 2023: Skills-First: Reimagining the Labor Market and Breaking Down Barriers
  22. LinkedIn 2022: LinkedIn Learning: Workplace Learning Report 2022 – The Transformation of L&D
  23. LinkedIn, 2022A: Our skills-first vision for the future
  24. LinkedIn, 2021: Why Skills-Based Hiring Starts with Your Job Descriptions
  25. LinkedIn 2021A: LinkedIn Learning: The Skills Advantage
  26. LinkedIn 2019: Global Talent Trends, 2019
  27. Manpower Group, 2024: Report: Global Talent Shortage, 2024.
  28. McKinsey 2023: The State of Organisations.
  29. McKinsey, 2020: Beyond hiring: How companies are reskilling to address talent gaps
  30. Pew 2016: The State of American Jobs, 2016 report
  31. PLTW and Burning Glass, 2018: The Power of Transportable Skills: Assessing the Demand and Value of the Skills of the Future
  32. PWC, 2024: 27th Annual Global CEO Survey: Thriving in an age of continuous reinvention
  33. PWC, 2023: PwC Global Workforce Hopes & Fears Survey, 2023
  34. PWC, 2021: Building tomorrow’s workforce: Six no-regrets plays to make today: Future of Work and Skills Survey.
  35. PWC, 2017: Workforce of the future: The competing forces shaping 2030
  36. SHRM, 2019: Skills Shortage Tightens Job Market; 83% of HR Professionals Report Difficulty Recruiting: SHRM Research
  37. WEF, 2024: Putting Skills First Opportunities for Building Efficient and Equitable Labour Markets
  38. WEF, 2020A: We need a global reskilling revolution – here's why
  39. WEF, 2020: The Future of Jobs Report 2020
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