The Looming Talent Shortage – Part II

“The sky is falling! The sky is falling” – Chicken Little

According to a recent study by the US Department of Labor, 62% of all U.S. jobs in 2010 will require higher skill levels. While 97 million people will be needed, only 43 million Americans will have the educational qualifications for these jobs. On the other hand, 38% of all U.S. jobs in 2010 will still be low-pay/low-skill and require 61 million workers. About 115 million Americans will be competing for these jobs.

The impact of this talent meltdown will probably be greatest on small and mid-sized companies, with larger corporations merging or leaving the United States. Large companies will poach the talent they need from smaller businesses.

Finding professionals and managers has not become much easier during the recession, and it promises to get even harder as the economy heats up.    Source: Workforce Trends

How can this be? Haven’t we just experienced one of the worst recessions, some may call it a depression, in recent memory? Millions of people have lost their jobs, their homes, their cars, and their self esteem. And now we are told that there is a looming talent shortage? There must be something wrong with the data from the Department of Labor. Surely this can’t be the case.

Well there is nothing wrong with the data from DOL and this isn’t the first time this seeming discrepancy has occurred, nor will it be the last. The question is what can we do about it?

First a few basic facts. Companies are in business to stay in business, to make a profit. Companies hire people who can help them stay in business, make a profit and solve problems. Just because there are X number of jobs to be filled and X number of people looking for work does not mean that all the jobs will be filled by those looking for work. Otherwise, talent acquisition companies like mine would go out of business. And nobody wants that to happen!

Many companies have experienced this talent shortage before. New technology, new markets, new opportunities will always create the need for more talented, educated, innovative people than are available when needed. Add to this the fact that much of the existing workforce is close to retirement age and the talent shortage issue becomes more real and should not come as a surprise to anyone.

But there is hope. Whether you are part of a large multi-national conglomerate or a small to mid sized business doing some of the following should help you address this issue.

  • Develop a comprehensive Workforce Plan – Understand the talent that you currently have, identify the gaps and profile the type of people you will need 3, 5, 10 years down the road.
  •  Grow Your Own – Do any of your more recent hires have some of what you will need in the future? Will proper training provide them with the required skills? Succession planning is not just for the C-suite.
  • Develop a robust College Recruiting Program – The best way to address the talent shortage is to attract the talent at the earliest possible opportunity. Good college recruiting will prove to be the best investment you can make in the future of your company.
  • Strive for Organizational Resiliency – In order to keep your best talent and to inhibit big company poaching, create a culture in your company that is inclusive, rewarding and encouraging. No one should ever want to leave.

Remember this looming talent shortage is nothing new. It is always with us. What you do about it is the important thing. Don’t act like Chicken Little, the sky is NOT falling!


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