The Global Talent Crunch Means That Jobs Need To Be Redefined

It’s been clear for a number of years that there is a war for highly skilled talent, but this has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some skilled workers are changing career, some are demanding greater flexibility about where they work, and some are giving up on the idea of a job needing to be a regular Monday to Friday commitment.

This is affecting companies of all sizes. Look at how the Swiss bank UBS just announced the permanent adoption of hybrid and flexible working hours and locations (office or home or WeWork) for most of their employees. What is interesting is that the UBS management are explicit about why they are doing this – they believe that they can attract talent away from the more rigid Wall St banks that are mostly heading back into their offices and suits.

Korn Ferry just published a research paper suggesting that if you look at all the major economies globally then by the end of this decade there will be more than 85 million skilled jobs vacant – companies unable to find people to perform these roles. The cost to businesses of not getting productive people into these roles could be worth more than the combined GDP of Japan and Germany.

Korn Ferry highlights the USA as having a deficit already – up to around 6m positions unfilled – but this is likely to double by the end of the decade. Countries such as Brazil and Indonesia are predicted to be in an even worse situation with many more vacancies than people available with the right skills.

You can follow the link to read the entire Korn Ferry report (titled ‘The Global Talent Crunch’) for yourself, but it’s worth quoting a short part of the conclusion: “We will see successful organizations moving from a paternalistic approach to a more mature, flexible relationship with their people, built on mutual respect. We can also expect a more fluid labor market, with staff brought in on a per-project basis. For individuals to remain credible, it will be critical for them to stay constantly up to date, with the emphasis on individual responsibility for maintaining relevant skills.”

I think the conclusion from this research is heading down the right path. There is a global talent crunch and we will never solve it just by creating more job vacancies. A fully joined up approach from education into employment is required, but this also needs employers to think carefully about how the employer-employee relationship works in the 2020s.

A job isn’t something the employee should be doing for the same number of hours in the same place each day, always feeling grateful that their pay check arrives on time each month. Skilled employees have options and employers need to recognize this and reflect their appreciation for the fact that people want to work for them – look at the concrete steps a bank like UBS is taking just so they can say at every job interview ‘working with us isn’t like being with one of those Wall St companies.’

These options are increasingly global. Graphic designers no longer just design art campaigns for clients in their home city – the market for skilled people is truly global and this not only creates some amazing opportunities to accelerate development, it also means that skilled people have a potentially global pool of clients.

LiveXchange has worked on this basis for a long time. We don’t search for people who live near to a specific office. The people can stay at home and set the hours they want to work. When we want to find some really specific skills to support a client, it’s no problem because we can search globally.

What if you want to build a customer service team that has really intimate knowledge of gaming and Augmented Reality? We can find fans of Pokémon GO and onboard them and let them contribute when they want to. Try finding this kind of expertise if you are limited to everyone within a few miles of your office.

The Korn Ferry research is just illustrating the problem. If companies don’t change then they will no longer be able to find the people they used to take for granted. The global talent crunch is real and it needs a new approach to building teams that can deliver for modern companies.