Is it really 1.4% for America?

Six years from now, there will be more college graduates coming from developing countries, an expected 74 million more to be exact than from Western markets. Because of this, by 2021 the US will be operating in a talent deficit. What does this then mean for graduates, jobseekers, recruiters and HR leaders?

Technology, cross-border sourcing, crowd-sourcing — there are rough seas of change ahead for HR, recruitment and talent. Some have sleek ships to navigate the undulating waves of change, others slow-turning but stable tankers. Some just a life-vest and hope. But regardless of what you have to weather the change, there’s one number that you need to know to properly prepare you for the near and mid-term: 1.4%.

It may have passed over your content radar, mine certainly I must admit, but Oxford Economics, a UK headquartered think-tank released a paper titled ‘Talent 2021’ that approached the econometrics of talent in late 2012.

There are a number of other studies that share similar conclusions — a massive shift in where talent will come from in the next 5–10 years is occuring. What the experts at Oxford Economics do over others is paint a clear portrait of a talent landscape undulating under ‘tectonic market shifts’. What’s fascinating from this read is the reported forecasted contribution of major countries to the graduate pool over this period. We’ve heard about the many issues plaguing the US tertiary education system, changing national demographics and other effects that are impacting the continual output of college graduates that America produces. 1.4% is the expected annual contribution that the US will make to the total graduate pool in the next eight years. Comparatively, Brazil, India and Indonesia combined will contribute 17.8% annually. Because of this low annual contribution, by 2021 the US will be operating in a talent deficit.

2021 seems like eons from now, but I assure you it’s just six short years away. Today’s recent graduates will starting to see the light of middle management, baby boomers will be hitting retirement age (if that still holds then) and HR professionals will be holographically interviewing candidates sourced via big(ger) data systems (don’t hold me to the last prediction). So what does this mean for talent and its associated industries? What can you do to take advantage of these rough seas ahead and use the winds of change to put you in front of the pack?

For job seekers

Invest in cross functional skills. Don’t spend time reformatting your resume, reformat your skills. There are amazing and free MOOCs, online courses and information that predicts what talent demand will look like the future. Focus on skills to build your network and be generous with your time and current skills. These will lead you to your next opportunity.

For graduates

Look at your current course selection. Going traditional? Don’t. Look at what technology you use every day and think about why you post, tweet, yak and drive in your hybrid car (or for most, your parents). It’s these types of companies that require cross-functional and contemporary skills. Use your time at university to learn how to learn, build networks and get experience building real things.

For recruiters

This one is simple and direct: build your international candidate networks. For partner/owners, build cooperative arrangements with out-of-country firms, and reciprocal bounties for finding talent. Better yet, expand your sourcing into surplus countries and build teams in upcoming talent deficit markets.

For HR professionals

As I mentioned in an earlier predictions article, there are major technological, social and cultural workplace shifts occuring. Quite frankly, they have been happening for a number of years now. Only now that we start to pass from early adopters to the large, corporate early majority that these effects have hit most HR professionals’ inboxes. The result of this is either ‘no new applications’ in some ATS systems or an overload of resumes that are not right, not qualified or not ready for a job in the organization.

In today’s talent market, cross-border sourcing is now part of most companies’ outlook. Engineering and sciences talent is and will continue to be difficult to become interested in your employment brand, and the ATS systems that were implemented when Friends was still leading the Thursday schedule for NBC are now replaced by cloud-based, social-centric talent pipelines.

It’s happening now certainly, but the digitization of talent; their information, skills and the amazing transferability of all of this is changing the fundamentals — operational and theoretical — of how HR operates. How do you hire, and more importantly on-board, a generation of Millennials who are not interested in stepping up each rung on the corporate ladder? How do you motivate an experienced and possibly threatened aging workforce? What does 1.4% mean for HR? Here are a few tips for squaring your ship:

Get social. It doesn’t matter what you hear. Everyone’s online. Facebook will not experience a mass exodus. Choose one, maximum two platforms to invest in properly. ‘Investing in properly’ means having resources that produce meaningful, human content and not just an address on a social avenue.

Build metrics. The C-suite knows about the 1.4%. They feel that HR is not ready for transformational change. They need lieutenants to provide plans and replicable results for new talent challenges. Figure out a regular metric that benchmarks your firm’s cross-border and international sourcing performance and you’re one step closer to having the CEO’s ear.

Set up pipelines. Good CEO’s know that at least 20% of their job is dedicated to finding great talent. The best ones dedicate even more of their day to their businesses’ future. This won’t scale with large organizations however. So build a CEO’s nose for talent deep into your organization. Drive purposeful transformation at all levels by making your employees voices for your employer brand, always on the search for good talent to bring people in, rather than looking themselves for a way out.

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