While 66 percent of respondents said that high-quality employees were the greatest contributors to business success, up from 25 percent last year and 19 percent the year before, 41 percent said they considered the hiring and retaining of these employees their biggest operational challenge.
This number had been resting at 27 percent for the last two years.
"Theres a little aging out, but whats really driving the shortage is global competition, which is incredible. The number has grown tremendously this year," said Anthony Kern, Deputy Managing Partner at Deloitte & Touche USA, based in New York.
"There seems to be a bit of a lag in output of tech workers, and the slowdown in 2001 didnt help, and were feeling the pinch on the other side of that now. But the global competitiveness, I dont see that slowing down at all."
The difficulty in finding quality employees has led CEOs to offer additional perks, with 71 percent offering stock options to lure employees. Twenty-three percent offer additional vacation days, 35 percent offer training and development, and 49 percent offer flexible work hours.
Twenty-four percent selected "other" when asked which additional perks they offer.
"I hear about them using child care, sabbatical programs, [and] advance degree programs beyond training. Some are giving away cars, and even the ability to go away for four to five weeks, doing work elsewhere, and come back. But child care is really the biggest one," Kern said.
Nearly all of the responding CEOs, 97 percent, said they had plans to expand their work forces within the next 12 months. This response rate is similar to that of 2005, when 95 percent said the same. In 2004, it was only 85 percent.
Almost half of the CEOs (47 percent, up from 42 percent last year) responded that the growth will exceed 25 percent, while 17 percent said they expected growth to exceed 50 percent. This number is down only slightly from 19 percent last year.
Internet and IP technologies were chosen by the CEOs polled as being increasingly critical to their operations, both internally and externally. However, the number who said they saw Internet/IP as the technology segment offering the greatest potential growth over the next 12 months dropped from 30 to 19 percent.
However, the wireless communications segment, chosen by 11 percent as the greatest potential growth area last year, leapt to being the choice of 21 percent in 2006.
" This [shift from Internet/IP to wireless] was predicted," Kern said. "If you look at all the content that is about to flow to devices, wireless and all things related to wireless are understandably huge."
"There are 3 million people in the United States and just fewer than 2 million have some kind of wireless device. These devices are becoming more sophisticated, and even when you talk to companies outside telecom, they realize they need to interact with these customers wireless lives," he said.