Talent Innovations Help U.S. Companies Get Ahead of the Skills Gap

Rebecca Henderson
Apr 21, 2017 · 3 min read

The future of the U.S. economy hinges on upgrading the skills of U.S. workers with job training programs, according to experts brought in to guide Federal policy. But solving the skills gap in the U.S. workforce may have as much to do with how employers find and hire skilled talent, as it has to do with public policies to train more skilled workers. Smart companies will get ahead of the gap — and stay ahead of the competition — by adopting innovations in talent acquisition.

Nearly four-fifths of the more than 400 HR executives global talent management firm Randstad Sourceright surveyed for its annual Talent Trends Report said they expect talent scarcity to affect their companies over the next year. Their concern is not surprising, given there are an estimated 5.5 million job openings in the U.S., and only about 1.4 million unemployed workers for each opening.

Until the country is able to close the skills gap, U.S. employers need to change the way they attract and retain the limited pool of skilled workers that find themselves in increasing demand. More employees, for example, are choosing to become contingent workers — freelance, mobile talent working on-demand. One-third of the employers surveyed by Randstad Sourceright said they are planning to engage contingent workers over the next year. Moreover, respondents indicated that contingent workers could make up as much as 30 percent of their workforce in the coming years.

A more mobile and contingent, skilled workforce requires U.S. employers to make important changes in their talent acquisition strategies. Highly connected workers have made it easier for companies to employ top talent located anywhere in the world. But remote workers also demand that companies create more flexible working options, such as variable work hours and job-sharing opportunities.

Finding and managing this more agile workforce is driving more employers to consider managed service providers (MSPs), offsite talent management firms that help companies hire large numbers of highly skilled, contingent workers in a cost-effective and efficient manner. MSPs help streamline intake and distribution of candidate information, speed the on-boarding and off-boarding of contingent employees and help ensure compliance across all of the jurisdictions involved in engaging a remote and mobile workforce.

In the past, HR leaders have not had the same business intelligence tools and technology that other corporate departments have used to drive business performance. That is changing quickly. Companies are tracking traditional talent acquisition metrics, like candidate volume and time-to-fill, but MSPs are filtering the data through complex data analytics software that can provide near real-time performance assessments and help pinpoint the most effective way to fill available positions with the best talent. Successfully overcoming the skills gap might entail hiring new full-time employees, engaging off-site contingent workers, repositioning existing employees or any combination of these strategies.

The most competitive companies are even employing predictive analytics, which help employers identify and steer clear of talent gaps before they arise. Deeper insight into a company’s workforce development often demands greater agility by the company to manage that development successfully. MSPs use the data to get a better understanding of how a company’s workforce is changing. Companies, in turn, use an MSP to better manage the “on demand” employees that may be required to respond to those changes. As a result, data analytics have made the MSP model a more powerful, profitable and efficient way of addressing the skills gap.

Few of the profound challenges employers are likely to face when confronting the skills gap in the U.S. workforce will be solved very quickly by changes in public policy, no matter how well-intended. It is a workers’ market. Smart companies, however, will not wait for U.S. policymakers to resolve how to train more American workers and will adapt to stay ahead of their competition by employing bold innovations in talent acquisition.

Rebecca Henderson is CEO of Randstad Sourceright, one of the world’s leading human resources providers.

Rebecca Henderson

Written by

Rebecca Henderson is CEO of Randstad Sourceright, one of the world’s leading human resources providers.