Talent wars set to intensify

by 10 Jun 2008

IF FINDING the right employees isn’t challenging enough, companies in the developed world are about to face a new challenge – recruiters from emerging markets.

A recent study has found that when talent isn’t available locally, companies in emerging markets will look to developed countries in the West to fill their vacancies.

This is particularly onerous as ageing populations and declining birth rates in much of the developed world are beginning to cause a talent crunch.

In some countries, such as Japan, the problem is particularly acute. Three-quarters of Japanese executives view the ageing population as the primary factor in the talent gap their firms are facing.

“Organisations need to start thinking creatively about how to resolve the talent shortage issue,” said Robin Bew, editorial director at the Economist Intelligence Unit, which conducted the study.“Hiring a headhunter to poach employees from a rival firm is not a sustainable solution.”

Businesses across the world are worried – of the 587 executives polled for this survey, nearly two-thirds expect employee recruitment and retention to become tougher over the next three years, and more than a fifth see this as becoming significantly harder.

The study, sponsored by SAP, also found that soft skills are the most sought after, but the hardest to find. The ability to manage change, think strategically and communicate effectively are the most wanted skills, yet these are in the shortest supply.

Furthermore, talent management is too important to leave only to HR. Having recognised people as a core competitive asset, companies are treating talent management as an integral part of their business strategy.

Many survey respondents said the most effective talent-management strategies were those devised and implemented by business units themselves and supported by the HR function. As such, a more creative approach is needed, the study found.

Companies are continually told that to stay competitive they need to be more innovative. Firms will need to recruit not only from other countries but also from other industries, and they will need to work more proactively with universities and other businesses to develop training programs and help expand the available pool of skilled employees.


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