Canadian chief executives’ confidence in the country’s economy has dropped by 15% compared with last year, but CEOs from around the world are more optimistic about Canada’s growth, a new report from KPMG LLP finds.
The firm surveyed 1,300 CEOs from around the world — including 75 from Canada — in its latest Global CEO Outlook. It found that 79% of Canadian CEOs were confident about domestic growth (down from 94% in 2018), compared with 83% of global CEOs (up from 74% in 2018).
Canadian executives cited environmental risk, international trade tensions and disruptive technologies as their main causes for concern — each of which is a global issue rather than a Canada-specific issue, KPMG notes.
Interestingly, even though Canadian CEOs expressed concern about technological disruption, they are less willing to take action than their international counterparts, the report says. Only 44% of Canadian global CEOs plan to upskill more than 40% of their workforce with new digital capabilities, compared with 81% of global CEOs.
KPMG reports that this discrepancy could be due to Canadian firms taking a cautious, “wait and see” approach to upgrading their workforce.
“The gap could also be attributed to the fact that it is no small task finding and retaining the right individuals,” said Soula Courlas, KPMG’s national lead, people and change, in a statement. “Thanks to an aging workforce, demand and supply imbalances, skills mismatches and other contributing factors, Canada is on track for a major technology talent shortage in the next five years.”
Canadian CEOs also are less confident about their abilities to respond to cyber threats. Fifty-nine percent said they are “very well prepared to contain a cyberattack,” compared with 69% of global CEOs.
“Chalk it up to less experience with new technologies or the cautious ‘Canadian way,’ but Canada has been slow to catch up to the new digital ‘normal,’” said Benjie Thomas, Canadian managing partner, advisory services with KPMG in Canada. “Digital is driving fundamental change at a rapid pace. To continue to compete with the world, Canada needs to step on the pedal.”