PwC Canada commits $150 million to upskill staff, Canadians

18 November 2019 3 min. read

PwC Canada announced a $150 million investment over three years to upskill its 7,850 people to be “future ready.” The accounting and consulting firm also committed to providing training to 1 million people and nonprofits across the country.

There is a growing mismatch between the skills people have and the ones needed for the “digital world.” In a nutshell, governments and businesses wring their hands at the overabundance of unskilled or easily automated workers (truck drivers, admin/clerical workers, telephone sanitizers) and the lack of data scientists and computer engineers (which also makes them more expensive, which businesses don’t like).

According to a PwC survey of 22,000 global workers, 53% said automation will significantly change or make their job obsolete within ten years.

Seventy-seven percent said they would learn new skills now or completely retrain to improve their future employability; however, only 33% said they are given many opportunities to develop their skills outside of normal duties.

"Upskilling is a complex journey that requires a significant shift in mindset for any organization. It is no easy feat to solve this alone, which is why your public, private, and social sectors must work together to equip Canadians with the skills they need to succeed — no matter what the future holds," said Nicolas Marcoux, CEO of PwC Canada. "By building a movement focused on upskilling, our ambition is to help ensure that no Canadian is left behind in our new digital world."

PwC Canada commits $150 million to upskill staff, Canadians

On the enterprise side, Canadian CEOs have a somewhat unenlightened approach to bridging the talent gap. PwC’s Global CEO survey found that 41% of Canadian leaders believe establishing a strong pipeline direct from education is the most important way to close a potential skills gap in their firm, while only 16% picked “significant retraining or upskilling.” The viewpoint of Canadian CEOs is completely inverted to that of global CEOs: 46% of global leaders identified retraining and upskilling as the most important method, while only 17% chose a direct educational pipeline.

Marcoux added, "Though educational institutions play an important part in closing the skills gap, businesses also bear a large responsibility for equipping their people with the skills of the future. Business leaders' commitment to doing so is key to ensuring Canada's competitiveness on the world stage."

On the government side, the federal budget from earlier this year gave workers aged 25-64 a $250-per-year tax credit for skills training costs, up to a lifetime value of $5,000. The budget also set out plans to create 84,000 new student work placements over the next five years, while cutting interest rates on student loans.

In addition to digitally upskilling its own 7,000+ workforce, PwC Canada will also provide training to 1 million people and nonprofit organizations across Canada to help “maximize their potential,” according to a release from the firm. Marcoux said that PwC staff will share skills – including data analytics, automation, and AI – so that nonprofits are better equipped to face the future.