Workers in this occupation tend to create policies and direct the overall activities of the organisations which employ them. Occupations in this group include, amongst others, legislators, senior government officials, managing directors and chief executives.  

Key Facts:

  • Around 1.8 million people were employed as CEOs and senior officials in 2018.  Employment in the occupation grew by 15 per cent between 2006 and 2018.
  • Employment is projected to grow by 10 per cent over the period 2018 to 2030, adding almost 200 thousand new jobs.  This underestimates the actual level of employment demand.  In order to replace those who will leave the occupation for one reason or another – an estimated 1.5 million between 2018 and 2030 – and meet the projected growth in demand over the same period, around 1.7 million job openings will need to be filled between 2018 and 2030. 
  • CEOs and senior officials tend to hold high-level qualifications.  In 2018, 63 per cent had high-level qualifications and this is expected to increase to almost 70 per cent by 2030. The share of low- and medium-level qualified workers is expected to fall over the period to 2030.
  • In the workplace, Autonomy, Creativity and resolution and Sell and influence are the key 3 tasks and skills of CEOs, officials and legislators are .
  • Persons employed in this occupational group face challenges and opportunities driven by a variety of external factors.

Tasks and skills

This occupational group mainly regards chief executive officers (CEOs) [1], responsible for the management of private firms, and legislators and senior officials responsible for coordinating and implementing public policy or working for special interest organisations, such as trade unions, employers’ organisations, humanitarian or charity organizations, or sports associations.

The skills required by both CEOs and senior officials depend predominantly on the sector in which they are employed or policy area/industry that their work focuses on. However crossover across and complementarities between markets, sectors and policy agendas may also call for a broader set of skills.

According to Eurofound's Job Monitor, autonomy, creativity and resolution and sell and influence are the most important tasks and skills of CEOs, officials and legislators.

Figure 1: Importance of tasks and skills of CEOs, officials and legislators


Note: The importance of tasks and skills is measured on 0-1 scale, where 0 means least important and 1 means most important.

Around 1.8 million people were employed as CEOs and senior officials in 2018.  Their employment level is projected to grow by 10 per cent between 2018 and 2030; building upon the 15 per cent growth in employment observed over the 2006 to 2018 period. This future employment growth is expected in most European countries covered in this analysis; only in Hungary, Bulgaria and Sweden some job losses are projected.

Figure 2: Future employment growth of CEOs, officials and legislators in European countries (2018-2030, in %)


The 10 per cent growth will result in there being an additional 188,000 CEO and senior official jobs by 2030.   1.5 million people can be added to this projection, expected to leave the occupation for one reason or another such as retirement and who will need to be replaced[3]. This means that there will be around 1.7 million job openings that will need to be filled between 2018 and 2030.

Figure 3: Future job openings of CEOs, officials and legislators (2018-2030)

For senior officials, the fastest growing sector will be education. For CEOs, the fastest growth is expected in several business services sectors, such as legal, accounting and consulting , architecture and engineering, and financial and insurance which correspond with sector growth forecasts [4]  [5] and also in research and development.

Persons employed in this occupational group face challenges and opportunities driven by a variety of external factors. Organisations will continue to look for leaders – with the most appropriate skills to develop an effective strategy for navigating an increasingly volatile global market coupled with significant social changes. As expected, the majority of CEOs and public officials hold high qualifications. 

With regard to education level, 63 per cent of people working in these occupations had high-level qualifications in 2018 and this is expected to increase to almost 70 per cent by 2030. The share of low- and medium-level qualified workers is expected to fall over the period to 2030.

Which drivers of change will affect their skills?

A range of trends are having effects on leaders’ skills in the private sector, although many of these also apply to the public sector and special interest organisations:

  • New technology is radically changing the way companies can organise themselves [6]. Digital networks are facilitating the growth of organisations with remote working practices being combined with new ways of work. Many companies are developing flexible networks of skilled workers, which encompass teleworking and online communities [8] to tap into talent wherever it may be [9]. Such developments require new leadership and management skills:  emphasising less on ‘command and control’ and more on motivation, encouragement and empowering teams to establish their own targets and make independent decisions [10]. Business leaders also require the skills to develop digitally oriented strategies, which make full use of available technology [11]Cyber security issues also need to be addressed, which requires specialist expertise from those in this occupational group [12]. Skills in risk management are needed along with collaborative skills to work with both internal and increasingly outsourced partners [13]  [14].
  • Greater consumer power, linked to social democratisation and the explosion in social media usage, means CEOs need to pay increasing attention to their organisations’ corporate citizenship and its impact on local, national or even global society. It is vital that CEOs possess strong awareness of any negative externalities that may be associated with their business operations, to remedy any potential failings. Thus businesses are looking to better understand customers and their dynamic needs, going beyond simply providing goods or services at a low price [15]. Active listening and communication skills are especially important when negotiating with a diverse array of stakeholders who have differing ideas, values and agendas[16].


“CEOs are now placing more emphasis on what their customers are trying to achieve than on what their companies are trying to sell. As a result, the importance of being innovative and agile, CEOs believe, cannot be overstated. The Conference Board Council on Innovation suggests we are moving into an ‘experience economy’, where customers value the experience of using a product or service, not just the product itself. CEOs recognise that the basic value proposition of providing a good product at the most competitive price is not, in itself, enough to win new customers or to retain current ones”.

Source: The Conference Board

  • Globalisation and continuous developments in emerging markets demand business leaders to be fast in setting direction and fully capitalising on new opportunities; establish management and operations staff who understand, or can adapt to, local regulation, risks and market conditions and optimise the potential in these new areas [17].  
  • Creating more flexible and adaptive workforces, with a large pool of talented staff and future leaders  [18] supports business success from local to global markets CEOs need to support staff members, demonstrate a results-driven mentality, understand and consider different perspectives, and solve problems effectively  [19]. In close collaboration with human resources experts, CEOs can also establish leadership development programmes that promote distinctive workplace cultures and values, which benefit businesses as a whole and make organisations more attractive to prospective employees.

Leaders and senior officials in the public sector, as well those as in trade unions and employer organisations are also affected by more specific developments:

  • In the public sector there are increasing public expectations in relation to quality and service. . Emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness in public management is stimulating an increasing use of targets and performance indicators [20]. These developments require enhanced skills on monitoring the quality and cost effectiveness of services.
  • Senior officials also need strong competences in relation to communicating effectively with citizens in an age of social media, where the ability to communicate accurate and factual messages has become much more challenging than hitherto. Technological advancements paired with e-tools of communication have become especially prominent in recent years in the health sector, which has been affected by the additional factor of rapid medical and technological advances.
  • In the wake of the financial crisis in 2008, EU economies and societies have also been challenged with a range of adverse effects that have called for legislative reforms, along with a reshuffling of political and strategic priorities. Complex problem solving in the public sector is important, while in-depth expertise of present economic, social and political affairs demands continual professional development that is in line with new legislation.
  • EU and national-level regulations play a significant role in promoting environmental sustainability, promoting good employment practices and adapting to the externalities that come from technological development. Senior officials should understand businesses’ activities, and the environment in which they operate, to minimise the impact of constantly changing regulations on economic growth and direct policies and services towards fulfilling skills gaps and employment opportunities [21].
  • The shifting trend towards more flexible forms of work will have a significant impact upon public and trade union officials in respect of understanding the rights of workers in a more fragmented labour market [22]. Extensive knowledge of labour market regulations and these expanding forms of employment, which include telecommuting, freelancing and crowd working, will prove essential for trade union and government officials as they seek to introduce measures which protect workers from the negative externalities associated with changing labour market relations. Innovative measures include modernised employer organisations, such as digital freelancer unions, and adapted labour market regulations [23].
  • Risk of automation: As a part of its Digitalization and future of work project, Cedefop estimates the risks of automation for occupations. The most exposed occupations are those with significant share of tasks that can be automated – operation of specialised technical equipment, routine or non-autonomous tasks – and those with a small reliance on communication, collaboration, critical thinking and customer-serving skills. The risk of automation is further accentuated in occupations where employees report little access to professional training that could help them cope with labour market changes. . CEOs, officials and legislators are reportedly an occupation with very low risk of automation.

How can these skill needs be met?

Personalised training programmes are available by private organisations and skills councils to prepare prospective and current CEOs, as well as others in high-level positions, for current and future challenges [24].

The European Commission has taken positive steps in promoting opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises to provide professional development opportunities, which may have only previously been available to larger and better resourced companies, by encouraging the formation of clusters [25]: Continuing these efforts could pay dividends in promoting private sector-led professional development in the future and help address skill needs in business leadership.

Civil services in Slovakia, the United Kingdom, Ireland and a number of other EU Member States have established competence frameworks, with which staff must align their activities throughout each stage of their civil service careers [26]. An awareness of these frameworks, and how best to work within them, can do more than simply help current senior officials in workforce planning and recruitment; they also present a means with which to identify individuals who are best equipped to progress towards higher-level positions. It is important that public officials understand these competences to fulfil many of the required outcomes of public services and institutions, which have been outlined above [27]. Competence areas can include decision-making, providing value-for-money services, working as part of team (either through leadership or as a key stakeholder), delivering results and meeting shifting standards [28].


All web-links were last accessed February 7th, 2020.

[1] Defined as ILO ISCO 08 group 11 CEOs and senior officials. ILO (2012) International Standard Classification of Occupations ISCO-08. More information on the occupation can be found here.

[3] The need to replace workers leaving a profession for various reasons, such as retirement. More information on replacement demand and how it drives employment across sectors can be found on the Skills Panorama here.

[4]Cedefop 2016, European sectoral trends the next decade.

[5] EY 2015, EY Eurozone: The Outlook for Financial Services- The Tide is Slowly Turning

[6] The International Organisation of Employers 2016, IOE Brief- Understanding the Future of Work

[7] KPMG 2015, Delivering Britain’s Digital Future: An Economic Impact Study- A report for BT

[8] Deloitte University Press 2016, Organizational design: The rise of teamspublished 29 February 2016, accessed 30 June 2016.

[9] The World Economic Forum 2016, The Future of Jobs.

[10] Deloitte University Press 2016, Organizational design: The rise of teamspublished 29 February 2016, accessed 30 June 2016.

[11] McKinsey and Company 2015, Cracking the Digital Code: McKinsey Global Survey Results, published September 2015, accessed 30 June 2016.

[12] PWC 2016, Turnaround and Transformation in Cybersecurity, accessed 30 June 2016.

[13] ibid.

[14] KPMG 2015, Global CEO Outlook 2015

[15] The Conference Board 2015, The CEO Challenge 2015- Research Report

[16] PWC 2016, The 19th Annual Global Leadership Survey

[17]KPMG 2015, Global CEO Outlook 2015

[18] PWC 2016, The 19th Annual Global Leadership Survey

[19] McKinsey & Company 2015, Decoding Leadership: What Really Matters, accessed 30 June 2016.

[20] Behrens, A, Taranic, I & Rizos, V, 2015, “Resource Efficiency Indicators for Policy Making”, CEPS Working Document No. 415, accessed 30 June 2016.

[21] PWC 2016, The 19th Annual Global Leadership Survey

[22] The World Economic Forum 2016, The Future of Jobs

[23] ibid.

[24] The Institute of Directors 2016, Executive Coaching, accessed 30 June 2016.

[25] The European Creative Industries Alliance 2014, Create Innovate Grow

[26] The OECD 2015, OECD Public Governance Review – Slovak Republic

[27] ibid.

[28] British Civil Service- Human Resources 2012, Civil Service Competency Framework: 2012-2017