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Data scientists top skills wishlist as UK CEO's hit recruitment drive - KPMG report

Data scientists top wishlist as CEO's hit recruitment

UK CEOs have identified data scientists as the most important workforce capability that will support future business growth, according to KPMG’s 2018 Global CEO Outlook.


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-        Data scientists identified as most importance workforce capability by UK CEOs for supporting growth

-        Six in 10 UK CEOs are hiring new skills regardless of their company’s future growth targets

-        Clear majority of UK CEOs believe artificial intelligence technology will create more jobs than it eliminates over next three years

-        But business leaders limit use of contingent workers (freelancers, contract workers and independent professionals) over intellectual property fears


KPMG surveyed 150 UK leaders and a further 1,150 CEOs from across the world about their future investment plans and the challenges and opportunities facing their companies.*

More than two thirds of respondents (69%) named data scientists as an important workforce capability in supporting their future growth plans, followed by emerging markets experts (57%) and emerging technology specialists (55%), such as artificial intelligence professionals. The outlook suggests an increasing focus on technological disruption and need to consider market opportunities beyond domestic markets.

Looking ahead, six in 10 UK CEOs (61%) said that they are pre-emptively hiring new skills, regardless of future growth targets. The finding makes a significant statement on business leaders’ attitudes towards market conditions and a commitment to seeing through those challenges. In contrast, CEOs from the rest of the world were less confident as a group with more than half (52%) stating that they are waiting to achieve certain growth targets before hiring new skills.

UK CEOs were also more confident than their global counterparts on the prospect of artificial intelligence and robotics technologies. A clear majority (71%) said that they would likely create more jobs than it eliminates over the next three years. Fewer than two-thirds (61%) of CEOs from the rest of the world felt the same.


Mark Williamson, Partner and head of the People Consulting practice at KPMG in the UK, said:

“UK CEOs are encouragingly bullish on their resourcing requirements and evidently more so than their counterparts elsewhere in the world. This sends a powerful message to the world that UK business leaders can see past market uncertainty and are focused on future-proofing their operations. They are embracing digital disruption and are confident in the potential for automation to create jobs in the near future. The rise of the data scientist is clear evidence of this sentiment and shift in priorities within UK boardrooms.

“Fundamentally, the nature of digital disruption is potentially transformative if approached with the right mindset. But incremental, measured evolutionary change is not going to be an option for many sectors. The time to change is now and the scale of change requires business and operating model reinvention. The C-suite cannot delegate change leadership in such circumstances, it is their responsibility.”

When asked about the use of contingent works, such as freelancers, contract workers and independent professionals, more than half of respondents in the UK (56%) said they only had a limited use of them in their workforce. A similar proportion of respondents (54%) pointed to uncertainty about the ownership of intellectual property as a challenge when relying on a contingent workforce, followed by (53%) risks associated with sharing data and information.

Williamson continued: “Businesses are looking at ways that their workforce needs to change its size, shape and composition to meet the strategic demands of the next decade, which will include new capabilities that don’t currently exist for many organisations, owing to the degree of disruption that they are facing.  

“There is now a real appetite to upskill and make new hires, but fears over security and the ownership of assets might constrain firms from tapping into temporary labour markets as part of this. That said, the need to respond to technology disruption is becoming such an integral part of business strategy that we expect business leaders will increasingly establish their own training programmes and invest in external support.”




*KPMG’s research surveyed 1,300 CEOs of many of the world’s largest and most complex businesses to understand the challenges and opportunities they face and their vision for their business. The research was conducted by Longitude on behalf of KPMG. Respondents were split across the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, the Nordics and Africa. Eleven main sectors were covered — asset management, automotive, banking, consumer and retail, energy, infrastructure, insurance, life sciences, manufacturing, technology, and telecommunications.

34 percent of those surveyed globally have more than US$10 billion a year in revenues, 42 percent have between US$1 billion and US$9.9 billion a year in revenues, and 24 percent have between US$500 million and US$999 million a year in revenues.


Notes to Editors:

For media queries only, please contact:

Alastair Henry, Citypress (on behalf of KPMG)

Tel: 0161 235 0320



KPMG Press office

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About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 13,500 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a revenue of £2.07 billion in the year ended 30 September 2016. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 152 countries and has 189,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.


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