The biggest barrier to Canada’s digital transformation

When it comes to digital innovation, Canadian execs need to do more than talk the talk

In the race to build the workforce of the future, Canadian executives risk falling behind their global counterparts. The reason: they aren’t investing to upskill their teams, according to PwC Canada.

“Canadian executives are saying more than they’re doing when it comes to closing the skills gap,” the firm said in its Digital IQ report.

Business leaders in the country are “positive” about their digital strategy and planning, but they are “less positive” overall about the digital competencies of their existing workforce, the report noted.

The biggest barrier to digital success is the shortage of “suitably skilled” teams, according to 27% of Canadian executives, yet they are less likely than leaders in other countries to focus on upskilling.

In terms of cybersecurity and privacy, for instance, three in five Canadian business leaders on average said they “strategically manage” their risks. But less than one in five recognised these skills as crucial.

Only about a third of Canadian executives are addressing the digital talent shortage through upskilling:

  • 36% train employees on tech-driven changes to their jobs
  • 32% hire new employees with relevant tech skills
  • 27% train employees on new tech

“Unlike their global counterparts, some Canadian executives think they can hire their way out of a skills gap or rely on educational institutions training the workforce of tomorrow,” PwC said.

Canadian leaders, the firm noted, have yet to fully appreciate just how vital digital transformation and experience are to their success, and this manifests as “low digital maturity.” Canada needs to “step up investment” in training workers on tech capabilities, the firm added.

“It’s no longer if but how fast businesses digitally transform – Canadian organisations have the building blocks for success but are still seeing digital with a narrower view that’s focused on operations over innovation,” PwC said.

“It’s essential they change that to become disruptors rather than followers, and remain competitive on the global stage.”