Today, companies are facing a business landscape that offers significant opportunities for growth and innovation fueled by drastic changes in consumer demand, rapid technological advancement, and the widespread adoption of hybrid work. Yet new concerns have emerged — from the extraordinarily tight labor market to rapidly rising inflation to geopolitical tensions that stress not only supply chains and global operations, but also the wellbeing of workers worldwide.
A new report reveals the most in-demand and fastest growing skills leveraged by global companies amid ongoing concerns and economic uncertainty.
Business Talent Group (BTG) — a talent marketplace for independent management consultants, interim executives, subject matter experts, and project managers, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Heidrick & Struggles — released its fifth annual Skills Index, based on an analysis of proprietary BTG data. The report provides deep insights into how high-end independent talent are helping business leaders pursue growth while balancing risk, harness advances in data science and technology, and adapt their workforces, processes, and financial practices for the uncertain business environment ahead.
The report comes as 59% of CEOs say the labor and skills shortage remains a top disruptor for their businesses, according to a recent Fortune/Deloitte study. Additionally, 55% of executives say they are concerned about the difficulty of hiring the right talent at the right price quickly enough, according to Mercer.
"Five years ago, we began reporting on project and skill needs driving the use of high-end independent talent at top companies. Since that time, we've witnessed both a massive influx of top talent choosing the independent path and a fast-growing understanding among business leaders of how to best use this highly skilled talent segment," said BTG Co-Founder and Co-CEO Jody Greenstone Miller. "Today, high-end independent talent has become a core pillar in the talent strategies of leading enterprises — offering an indispensable source of in-demand skills that are simply inaccessible in the broader labor market."
Key insights from the 2022 Skills Index include:
- Requests for artificial intelligence and machine learning skills increased by 500% as companies seek to tap big data for more informed decision-making, automate processes for efficiency and cost reduction, and leverage technology to anticipate and respond to rising consumer needs.
- Demand for cost reduction experts grew 400% as companies look to increase resilience, right-size spending, and position organizations for choppy waters ahead.
- Global human resources (+314%), compensation strategy (+215%), and benefits planning and management (+100%) all made the list of fastest growing skills as companies seek experts to build out or scale up HR capabilities, design strategies to attract and retain top talent, and fill critical gaps in the HR organization. Notably, requests for interim HR leaders at all levels increased 400% year-over-year.
- Financial controls, accounting, and audit and financial planning, analysis, and modeling entered the top 10 most in-demand skills for the first time—driven in large part by the 91% increase in demand for interim CFOs and other finance leaders—reflecting the changing demands placed upon the function as its responsibilities grow in complexity and scope.
- Market landscape and growth strategy remained on the most in-demand skills list, but with requests for experts in risk management rising by 200% year over year, it's clear that business leaders find themselves balancing optimism for continued growth with concern that key initiatives could be derailed by any number of economic, geopolitical, ecological, and cybersecurity threats present in today's extraordinary risk environment.
Top 10 most in-demand skills for 2022
- Project Management
- Organizational Design and Workforce Planning
- Market Landscape and Research
- Financial Controls, Accounting, and Audit
- Financial Planning, Analysis, and Modeling
- Process Optimization and Transformation
- Growth Strategy
- Program Management Office (PMO)
- Strategic Planning
- Corporate and Business Unit Strategy
Top 10 fastest-growing skills for 2022
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (+500%)
- Cost Reduction (+400%)
- Global Human Resources (+314%)
- Compensation Strategy (+215%)
- Risk Management (+200%)
- Engagement Management (+167%)
- Data Visualization (+120%)
- Benefits Planning and Management (+100%)
- Database Architecture and Management (+82%)
- Product Development (+82%)
For a detailed look at the most in-demand and fastest growing skills, view the full 2022 Skills Index from BTG.