Why Canadian execs are more stressed than their U.S. counterparts

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Canadian executives are a gloomy bunch these days.

According to a report by global human resources company Ceridian, 78 per cent of Canadian executives surveyed are very concerned about the health of their industries for the next two years. American execs are less pessimistic, at 69 per cent.

As unemployment hovers around record lows, a skills shortage is top of mind for Canadian execs. A quarter claim they are currently facing a skills gap, and 76 per cent believe they will face a similar situation for the next two years. Most (77 per cent) say re-training existing staff is a high priority.

The report says the skills employers need are industry agnostic. Creativity, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, and communication will continue to be in high demand.

“This is the reality of the skills gap: According to the World Economic Forum, 65 per cent of children now entering primary school will hold jobs that don’t currently exist. And recent research from the Korn Ferry Institute revealed the talent shortage will reach a peak in 2030, with an expected 85.2 million job openings going unfilled worldwide,” reads the report.

“The potential cost? This global skills shortage could result in $8.452 trillion in unrealized annual revenue by 2030.”

Another challenge keeping Canadian execs up at night, which goes hand-in-hand with the skills gap, is keeping up with rising tech adoption.

More than half (53 per cent) say they plan to adopt cognitive technologies in the next two years, such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. More than half (54 per cent) also think headcount will shrink as a result.

“We’re barraged by headlines about robots taking jobs, as automation and AI continue to transform the workplace,” reads the report.

“Technology has also enabled us to work globally by removing physical boundaries. Organizations now compete for talent on a larger scale, across borders and industries, especially in a tight labour market.”

According to the report, nearly 50 per cent of jobs will be automated in the coming years. AI will increase labour productivity by up to 40 per cent.

“While jobs will likely change, there’s a place for humans and machines to work side by side in the future of work – and organizations can capitalize on it when they’re ready,” reads the report.

More than half of Canadian execs also worry about increasing compliance and regulatory complexity.

Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.

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