A Publication of WTVP

Today’s talent shortage is becoming increasingly acute and widespread with each passing day. It will affect most organizations in some form, depending upon how well they prepare for this shortage. To win in this changing world of work, employers will need to reduce the number of jobs for which talent is in short supply while increasing the total available pool of employable talent.

Social and demographic changes, such as falling birthrates, are resulting in a lack of skilled individuals for available jobs. This talent crunch is creating many changes in the global workforce, and employers not paying attention could find their businesses healthy one year and in trouble the next. While some have already taken steps to improve their talent pipeline, there is far more that can be done.

One thing employers can do is to establish links with local schools to provide meaningful work opportunities. This gives students a true taste of real work skills and helps prepare them for eventual employment. In combination, employers should also invest in more work-based vocational and technical training.

Employers should also think about reskilling and upskilling individuals who are in roles that are redundant or obsolete. For example, an employer that lays off employees in one department only to hire different employees in another department, has made a serious mistake. This employer lost an opportunity to upskill employees who already had knowledge of the company, resulting in double the cost, training and time invested in filling those new positions.

Encouraging cross-training can also create a group of employees with the right skills and knowledge to fill several different positions. These people can then be moved between roles within the organization as workload demands change. Employers can also introduce more contingent talent—temporary, contract, consultant and outsourced—to their total workforce to accommodate the varying levels of demand.

Many unemployed or underemployed individuals could be brought back into the labor force to increase supply. Bringing these individuals back into work involves providing training in basic work skills and an introduction to good work ethic.

Attracting older individuals, people with disabilities and minorities into the workforce can also reduce the skills pinch. Employers need to work to set expectations to one of inclusiveness to help bring such groups into the workforce. For example, employers can invest in technology for individuals with disabilities, such as computer readers that vocalize on-screen text and adaptable PC controls.

In addition, older workers could be encouraged to stay employed. Employers can offer them retraining so they can return to less stressful and time-consuming roles or offer part-time work opportunities. This flexible approach increases the pool of knowledgeable, skilled workers by prolonging the individuals’ active working lives.

In a talent-competitive future, all organizations will need to become employers of choice. This includes getting better at attracting the talent they need, and at retaining that talent for the long term. This means providing opportunities for varied experience, good prospects for promotion and the right mix of working conditions that creates an acceptable work–life balance. Such approaches will attract individuals to the company and encourage employees to stay in their positions longer.

While the talent crunch is an issue that will affect governments and individuals as well as private-sector employers, it is the employers who will feel the crunch first when there are fewer people applying for jobs. It is in the employers’ interests to address the growing talent shortage by acting now, it’s the only way to ensure a strong workforce for today and tomorrow. IBI