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The World War II for Talent

By Rich Wellins, Ph.D.

Richard S. Wellins, Ph.D.

In November, I attended a CNBC Asia CEO Forum as part of our Asia Business Leaders Award sponsorship. The four panelists were economists. The topic? In which regions should businesses invest over the next two years? After listening for over an hour, I left with an unexpected insight: I know nothing about economics. I am ignorant on the subject. So, when I retire in a few years, one of my first priorities will be to register for an adult education course on this topic.

Economics does, however, bring me to the point of this blog: The World War II for Talent. Seventeen years ago, McKinsey published a widely distributed report called The War for Talent. With one economic crisis after another, at least in emerging economies, unemployment rose. Except for in a few countries, most notably India and China, the war was over. But let’s look ahead. The Conference Board recently published a piece titled Are We Asleep at the Wheel, part of their 2015 Global Economic Outlook Series. In the report, Bart Van Ark, The Conference Board’s chief economist, predicts modest and disappointing economic growth for the foreseeable future. One key reason: Labor supply will slow. The growth of the working-age population has been rapidly falling, partly due to the mass of the 65-plus generation. And the growth rate of younger working populations has begun to slow, perhaps lessening the labor advantages of emerging economies. To quote the report, “While it may feel counter-intuitive today, we may be facing serious labor shortages sooner, rather than later, and not just in the most skilled occupations.” Enter the second war for talent.

The good news for us in the talent management profession? Our CRAFT will be in increasingly high demand. What The Conference Board economists conclude is that both government and business leaders must, “…begin to prepare for an environment of labor shortages through training, facilitating work for older employees (that would be me), and other strategies to retain skilled employees.”

Rich Wellins, Ph.D., is a senior vice president at DDI.

Posted: 25 Mar, 2015,
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