It looks like the relevant media is finally starting to accept that the talent crunch will soon be upon us and that they have to start making a lot more noise if the business world is going to accept that it’s not just a top ten issue for the organization as a whole, it’s a top three issue! (The other two being corporate social responsibility and business sustainability, both of which will only be solved if the organization has the right talent.) I think I’ve stumbled across more articles in the past month or so than I have in the past year, including The Future of Supply Chain Management – Part 3: Organization + Talent in the Supply Chain Management Review, The New War for Talent over on ZDNet technology news, The Global Fight for Top Talent in Fortune, and It’s More Than Just Money in Knowledge @ Wharton China.
This is a good thing, because the reality is that we’ve been starving for talent in the developed world for over a decade. Technology has progressed so rapidly in this information age of ours (because Shift Happens) that even many individuals with University degrees more than a decade or two old are having significant problems keeping up – so imagine where that leaves the majority of the workforce without one! And now that the vast majority of the baby boomers are within a few years of retirement, at most, we’re in for some serious workforce shortages, especially since the number of young workers in the US alone will decline by 1.7M next year. Recent predictions are that the US will face a 10 million workforce shortage within 2 years and a 35 million workforce shortage by 2030! (Where will they be? In India of course! Already, HCL technologies, a mega-player in offshore software development is finding that new employees are seeing India as the most compelling source of opportunity and do not want to be sent on overseas assignments to North America!)
But the war is about to intensify. To date, the talent war has mostly been fought in the U.S., Western Europe, and Japan, but with the rapid rise of developing nations across the globe (and the BRIC block in particular), along with the resurgence of other key players like Canada and Australia, the war is now truly global. Furthermore, even rich nations like Saudi Arabia know that their future relies on talent (as even their oil reserves will dry up some day). To this end, King Abdullah is spending 12.5 Billion ( yes, that’s Billion with a B ) to found a new graduate research university to attract the best researchers in science and technology in the world!
And anyone without the right talent today is pretty much guaranteed NOT to be here tomorrow. The average business life-span may have been 14 years in the past, but we’re marching to a future where 14 months may be closer to the norm. With 70% of the value of companies in the S&P 500 now in intangibles, compared to 20% back in the 1980, almost all of the value in an average company lies in it’s people, their knowledge, their goodwill, and their ability to manage and capitalize on those intangibles.
So you better get your talent strategy ironed out quick, because if you don’t, you might wake up one morning to find that you have none and that you’re out of business.