Last year, I worked in six countries and four continents and found similar challenges and issues in each, although with their own twist, whether a booming economy, a dearth of people, or a lack of technology. This forced me to think differently about a lot of the concerns we hear in the United States. In many ways, our problems are not as severe as we think.
For example, Australia faces significant shortages of skills and people. About 25 percent of Australian workers were born elsewhere (compared to about 12 percent in the United States) and immigration will have to remain very high to grow to sustain the booming Australian economy. At the same time, opportunities in the United States, Europe, and other countries are enticing many Australians to leave, and the educational system is struggling to entice and graduate enough new workers to make up for the number projected to retire. China is also very short of skilled workers. While there are tens of thousands of laborers, only a small fraction have the skills to work in the new factories, high-tech establishments, software firms, call centers, and service industries that are sprouting up. They are educating a record number of people, but they cannot keep up with the growth. The lack of skilled people will almost certainly constrain China’s ability to grow as fast as it wishes to. While we in the United States face the issues of fewer skilled workers and an aging workforce, we can, and will, tap into that aging workforce in many ways. Some will choose to not retire; some will work part-time or as contractors or consultants. Organizations are finding ways to entice older workers to stay and are also focusing more on keeping younger workers. China has none of these older, skilled workers to tap. It will most likely turn to the worldwide Chinese-speaking diaspora for help.
The issues we were asked to help on this past year feel into three areas: 1) market knowledge and awareness, 2) employment branding, and (3) retention. Many clients asked me to help them and their management teams understand how significant the skills shortages are and to analyze the likely number of Baby Boomers who will retire. They were also focused on looking internally and analyzing their current employees’ skills so they could be recruited for new positions. Other clients were focused on building market-oriented strategies to attract better candidates and to attract the “right” candidates. We helped do research in brand perception and awareness and helped clients improve their websites and marketing approaches. Several were concentrating on keeping their current employees, finding which ones had skills that could be used elsewhere in the organization, and on changing policies so that older workers might be inclined to stay a while longer. What will the rest of 2006 bring? We are already seeing an increased focus on selection methods and tools that make it easy to screen for the best candidates. This is being done to lower the amount of time it takes to process potential candidates and to relieve the workload of overworked recruiters. It is also being done to improve the candidate’s experience and provide her with a faster and more accurate response than today. We are seeing a continued interest and commitment to better employment branding and candidate awareness programs. These are being launched in the form of new websites, improved college recruiting strategies, better use of product advertising as a way to do employment branding, and as more publicity aimed at the segments of workers the organizations wish to attract.
Article Continues Below
Guide: Practical Tips for Remote Hiring
The desire to put in place screening and assessment systems is growing rapidly. Almost all of our clients have some program in place to better screen candidates and to provide recruiters with a more qualified candidate than has been the case. Along with these major trends, we also see more time spent on on-boarding new employees and in making sure they have a positive initial experience. We see some increased interest in better and more modern college recruiting, and a huge increase in global recruiting best practices. The results of our survey on global recruiting will be released in a few weeks here on ERE and on my company website.
We also see more Baby Boomers staying in the job market and helping alleviate the current and predicted talent shortages. Art Koff, the founder of RetiredBrains.com, a job board devoted to helping seniors find jobs and to helping organizations find skilled employees, reports record numbers of both seniors (and Boomers), as well as organizations accessing his site. In short, this will be a year when we evolve better approaches to things we are already doing and build more stable and useful systems.