War for Talent Continues Globally

Category: Employment Trends

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The pursuit and demand for talent is an ongoing and unwelcome predicament in most developed countries.  In the USA and Japan firms are expanding their search for recruitment as far as east and south Asia, whilst Germany, France and the UK continue to look to Eastern Europe.

Why is there currently such a shortage? Birth rates have decreased dramatically in Western Europe and many highly skilled experienced people are retiring and cannot be replaced, which has consequently created a significant gap.

Companies should consider flexibility as a method of attracting talent, for example, flexible working hours to a mother (who may have many commitments such as driving the children to and from school etc) as a means of her to return to employment.

Managing talent demonstrates a broad picture and companies must now appreciate that HR departments of firms or recruitment agencies cannot be completely accountable as to why they cannot find sufficient employees to fill vacancies where there is evidently a skill shortage.  A methodical approach must be adopted by colleges, universities, recruitment agencies and government departments if companies are to weather the talent wars.

However, employment rights for parents in Ireland (entitlement to parental leave and an increase in flexible working) will enhance recruitment and retention – these new rights will be in place next spring (2015).

Northern Ireland is the only district of the UK where employment law is devolved, which means we have the chance of developing an employment law system that operates in the interests of people and business.  This will consequently further our economy to grow, as well as attract new investment and encourage companies to recruit new staff.

Who really is responsible?
The whole responsibility for the search for talented employees cannot entirely be placed on a company’s HR department; some obligation lies in other areas, such as line managers, schools, colleges and universities.

How can this be problem be remedied?
Organisations could get more actively involved with educational institutions such as universities and colleges etc., and establish training programmes.  Companies could participate with information from universities, such as which subjects are most popular and which are not, therefore giving companies an indication of where there will be a likely shortage.  Also a firm or college could create a bonus-scheme or some alternative incentive to an unpopular subject to fill the gap of candidates - thereby reducing deficiency in that specific disliked subject.

For example, very few students are considering careers in the oil and gas industry.  However, students fail to appreciate that providers of wind-power, bio-fuels and other types of renewable energy are part of a fast and expanding industry where jobs will be plentiful and because it is a new field there is a necessity to sustain an abundant workforce.

Queens University Belfast has been confirmed as one of the top 25 Universities in the UK, according to the Complete University Guide and is strong in engineering courses such as:

  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Aeronautical and Manufacturing Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering.

Companies in Ireland could establish a significant presence in colleges and universities to attract potential apprentices, for example engineering students.

Organisations could establish a connection with young potential candidates from universities, this way they will also build their employer brand, which should consequently create an enthusiastic talent pool. The University of Ulster - has one of the highest further study and/or employment rates in the UK, with 95% of graduates being in work or undertaking further study six months after they have completed their degree.

It is clearly a matter of identifying talented individuals who have a healthy appetite for work in order to build a promising local workforce.

Organisations must pay emphasis to thoroughly training their staff and consider the long-term future outcome of their firm and by fully embracing talent as their centre-point; they can formulate strategies more efficiently and confidently.

However, it is well accepted and recognised that there is a significant gap between the education a graduate receives to the skills required of industries.  Companies should now consider agreeing to co-operate with universities and colleges to assist in the contribution of a talent-management strategy in order to meet the deficiency of certain skilled workers currently lacking in so many industries and furthermore is calculated to worsen in the coming years.

What can be done?
Train existent staff to develop and cope with change

If a company is prepared to train their staff to cope with certain industrial modifications,

problem-solve, think strategically, communicate effectively as well as develop their staff’s technical capabilities, then they will in due course  win the war for talent because they will have maintained a highly skilled workforce, which also has the effect of creating a very positive employer branding.  If a company can foresee the relevance of sustaining an active cultured pool of talent then they will also guarantee future business accomplishments.

The fundamental rule is the necessity of excellent communication between ‘the talent-pool’ and the strategic executives of a company. When highly skilled people are retiring and finishing their career they should endeavour to offer guidance, for example, by allowing a young engineering graduate the opportunity to ‘shadow’ an experienced engineer who has probably had about 30 to 40 years experience thereby giving a student first-hand experience, which is something that they cannot learn from a textbook or in a classroom.

Retaining Talent
Locating and keeping hold of talented staff is complicated and is presently predicted to worsen.  It is not advised to poach employees from other companies because it does not work and is unsustainable.  Therefore companies should adopt logical and lateral ideas in finding new solutions to accommodate and retain talented individuals, thereby ensuring company productivity.

For instance, if a certain vacancy is difficult to fill, a company should look at their existing staff and judge whether it would be practical to re-train an internal employee, who has been with the firm for a period of time and for that reason will feel secure and positive with the culture of the company.