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Skills Dominates Global Business Agenda


Attracting and retaining skilled staff ranks highest on executive agendas for 2005, according to a global study by Accenture.

The study interviewed 425 senior executives at leading organisations in North America, Europe and Asia to identify and prioritise the issues of greatest concern to senior management.

Workforce improvement issues dominated the top priorities, making up four of the 10 most-selected concerns. The greatest number of respondents, 35%, selected "attracting and retaining skilled staff," while second came "changing organisational cultural and employee attitudes".

Other development issues in the top 10 included "improving workforce performance", at number seven, and "developing employees into capable leaders", which ranked 10th.

"The most powerful theme emerging this year is a strong and consistent focus on people," said Peter Cheese, global managing partner of Accenture's Human Performance practice. "Even though the business conversations have centred on global competition and the need for execution, business leaders are increasingly aware that nothing happens unless people-talent is engaged in the right way."

Innovation was also high on the executive agenda; "developing new processes and products to stay ahead of the competition" was the fourth-highest-ranked executive concern.

The top 10 current business issues for senior executives were:
1. Attracting and retaining skilled staff (35%)
2. Changing organisational culture and employee attitudes (33%)
3. Acquiring new customers (32%)
4. Developing new processes and products to stay ahead of the competition (29%)
5. Increasing customer loyalty and retention (29%)
6. Managing risk (29%)
7. Improving workforce performance (28%)
8. Increasing shareholder value (27%)
8. Using IT to reduce costs and create value (27%)
10. Being flexible and adaptable to rapidly changing market conditions (26%)
10. Developing employees into capable leaders (26%)


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