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The skills revolution: Why Interim Executives are leading the way

​In an era of rapid change and global economic shifts, the market for temporary staffing solutions is experiencing exponential growth, especially in the Asia Pacific region. As organisations grapple with the evolving workforce landscape and the war on talent, they are turning to Interim Executives. The skills revolution has emerged as a secret weapon in this environment and is reshaping temporary staffing solutions and the future of work.

Understanding the skills revolution

A big focus of the skills revolution is on equipping workers with the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing job market. It emphasises upskilling and reskilling, underpinned by a commitment to agile, lifelong learning. The goal is to empower people to succeed in their current roles while staying future-ready. This shift in workforce development is essential in an environment where uncertainty is the only certainty.

Dr. Ben Hamer, Chief Futurist at CreativeCubes.Co aptly points out the significance of the skills revolution: "In a world where we'll have at least 20 different jobs across five careers, job titles are no longer currency. Skills are. And we need to spend 15% of our working week learning and developing new skills to stay current."

The continuing rise of Interim Executives

Australia’s temporary staff services have grown by 8.38% annually since 2018. Interim Executives have emerged as crucial players in this new workforce ecosystem as the skills revolution gathers pace. These seasoned professionals bring a wealth of experience and skills to organisations, making them highly sought after in the ever-changing business world. In Watermark Search International’s 2023 Annual Interim Executive Survey (DOWNLOAD NOW), 20% of respondents cited "currency in skills" as the primary reason for working as Interim Executives.

David Evans, Managing Partner, Watermark Search, notes, “In Australia right now nothing is certain. Whatever your personal beliefs on where the economic environment will take us, change is coming. We believe the skills that have been prioritised over the last 10 years will no longer be enough to drive us forward. Instead, new themes emerging in the workplace will drive future success for our leaders, employees, and customers.”

One of these themes is “currency in skills”.

A commitment to lifelong learning

One of the skills revolution's cornerstones is embedding lifelong learning initiatives in organisations. These initiatives focus on retraining the workforce as the demand for skills shifts. This enhances employees' capabilities and contributes to an organisation’s adaptability.

On a personal level, Interim Executives prioritise reading market publications, participating in networking events, and collaborating with professional groups. The emphasis on staying up-to-date is crucial, especially as industries change at speed.

Skills strategy in action

Watermark Search recommends organisations ask themselves two critical questions when defining their skills strategy:

  • Skills clarity – Are you clear on the skills required for today and tomorrow, and do you have a strategy for acquiring these skills across the multigenerational workforce?

  • Investing in lifelong learning – To what extent are you investing in skills development to keep your workforce current?

How the skills revolution has empowered the C-Suite

Interim Executives actively pursue temporary assignments for the flexibility, variety and challenge they offer. These senior career professionals prioritise meaningful work that allows them to make a significant impact using their highly sought-after ‘human’ skills such as:

Stakeholder engagement and the ability to build trust quickly are recognised as vital ‘human’ skills and consistently valued by clients year after year. Problem-solving is another critical skill, especially in complex situations with incomplete information.

Tapping into the executive portfolio

Organisations looking to thrive in the post-pandemic world are turning to executive portfolio work segments as a must-have tool in their talent acquisition strategy. Sectors such as government, health, aged care, and not-for-profit are leading the charge in innovative talent sourcing. These organisations seek the experience, emotional intelligence, and specialist skills Interim Executives bring.

Interim Executives also offer a viable solution in an environment where organisations face the pressure to cut costs and address skill shortages. CFOs are consistently in demand for interim roles, followed closely by Chief Transformation Officers and Change Directors. These leadership roles become indispensable as organisations undergo digital transformation.

Interim Executives and cybersecurity

One significant challenge organisations face in the skills revolution is managing risk. In a recent survey, cyber security emerged as the number one skills risk area, reflecting the increasing importance of protecting digital assets. Interim Executives' diverse skill sets and problem-solving abilities can be critical to an organisation's cybersecurity strategy.

Leveraging the Interim Executive pool

The skills revolution is not just a trend. It is a fundamental shift in how we approach work and workforce development. It’s here to stay, and organisations that tap into this vast talent pool are poised to meet current and future challenges. Interim Executives, with their adaptability, expertise, and commitment to upskilling, are the perfect partners to navigate this uncertain terrain. As the skills revolution gathers momentum, organisations that prioritise skills development will emerge as leaders in the new world of work.

To learn more about the skills revolution in the workforce and to read about all things Interim Executive, please download our 2023 Annual Interim Executive Survey now.

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