The Global Talent Shortage
April 15, 2016 by Bill Rosenthal

Anybody who manages IT has experience with talent shortages. In certain areas, such as security, mobile app development, and big data analytics, there just aren't enough qualified people to hire. It’s a global problem, and it isn’t confined to IT. According to Manpower’s 2015 Talent Shortage Survey, 38% of hiring managers are struggling to fill positions in their organizations. The problem is worst in Japan (83%), Peru (68%), Hong Kong (65%), Brazil (61%), and Romania (61%). Hiring managers in the U.S. are having an easier time, but even so, nearly one in three (32%) report they are struggling.

The top four most difficult-to-fill positions are

  • Skilled Trade Workers
  • Sales Representatives
  • Engineers
  • Technicians

The most common reasons given for hiring difficulties are “Lack of Applicants” (35%) and “Lack of Technical Competencies” (34%).

When the report looked at steps being taken to deal with the talent shortage, it had this to say about my favorite talent enhancing strategy: 

One in five employers (20%) at the global level are revising their people practices to provide more training and development for existing staff. Most commonly, this takes the form of training to develop new skills (13%) and training to enhance existing skills (12%).

Other strategies for coping with the talent shortage include Non-traditional recruiting practices, enhanced benefits or higher starting salaries, reducing skills requirements for candidates who have the potential to acquire the skills, exploring previously untapped talent pools, implementing alternative work models, and redesigning existing work procedures.

I am biased, of course, but I can’t understand why the proportion of employers making use of training isn’t nine in ten rather than one in five. It seems obvious to me. I suppose some organizations may regard training as expensive, but it can’t be more expensive than finding new sources of talent, creating new work models, or reducing job requirements, particularly when you consider that training employees increases the value of a principal organizational asset — namely, its people.

The other possible objection to training as a cure for this problem is that it takes too long. Too many organizations pay no attention to their talent pipelines. Management needs to take responsibility, not just for filling the current skills gap but for filling the skills gap that will exist five or ten years from now. Yes, it may take years to deal with the current talent shortage, but if with careful planning, once you get past the initial shortage, you can have employees reaching the required level of development just as the need for them arises. In any case, the objection that training takes too long is meaningless when there’s no other alternative. 

First, create a vital, exciting, and flexible work environment. Then show the employee where he or she can go in the future, and provide the coaching and the training to move the employee toward that future. An employee who embraces your mission, is happy with his or her working conditions, and sees a future with you will be very difficult to pry away from you. 

It’s easier said than done, I know. But you don’t have to be alone in this. At Logical Operations, we know how to help you fit training solutions into your business. Count on us to help your organization manage its talent for the long term.