This is the fourth time I’ve written this post, to introduce the conversation I’m going to be hosting on Thursday for Ohio SHRM. Part of what I’m going to be talking about, and the questions I’m going to be asking revolve around the skills gap and employability, and how this impacts on HR thinking. I had the post nailed, then I had a conversation with John Sumser, and he pointed me towards a post that was out today that really illustrates this point.
One of the things I’m going to be looking at is how work is changing globally. When we look at the what is termed the war for talent, there isn’t really a war at all.How can there be when unemployment is rising in most western economies?
At the same time, there are increased numbers of reported job openings most months. We have more jobs, and more unemployed. There is a serious gap between the perceived skills of the unemployed and the talent that’s being sought.
The gap lies in our education systems and employability preparation delivered in university establishments across the world.Compare the figures for vocational study against what I would term “recreational” study delivered and taken up around the globe. Work is changing fast, and education is lagging far behind, hence the reason for the gap, and it is a real problem for the unemployed.
Those with the skills that are needed are already employed. The real war is in hiring other people’s talent, and in implementing the right initiatives. to keep the talent you have. Talent retention is probably more important than talent attraction right now, and a big part of retention is in skills development right now.How many companies focus on retention first as the number one challenge, identifying what really motivates people out of the text-book, and delivering that within an organisation through real internal mobility, security and other initiatives that keep people in the business. It’s a lot cheaper and less risk to keep the people you have and develop them, and a lot less risk, than it is going out and hiring.
The recovery we have seen has been well described as the jobless recovery. Demand has shifted to knowledge workers in areas like technology, consulting, information, data and the sectors that support for industries, 1000’s of jobs have been lost in sectors like manufacturing where any recovery has been automation lead. The jobs for those laid off just don’t exist. Should Governments be looking at pumping money in to job creation in ailing industries, or would it be better spent on education and employability?
The next real question is what education should look like, and how we should gauge knowledge and skills. We are still largely led by academic qualification. Training and learning is still increasingly driven by curriculum, exams and certification, but does this really tell us anything about the people we need to employ? I’m seeing a trend in my own profession, recruiting, where training providers and trade bodies are moving towards this, increasingly championing their latest accreditation with one university or another. Are these qualifications a reflection on employbility or suitability?
Here comes the next challenge, the way in which people learn now to the way in which we learnt in the past. The skill sets needed for the new economy are largely learnt by doing rather than thinking and studying. A clear example of this prompted this change of post.
Gamers, using gaming technology and skills honed over hours on gaming platforms have cracked a problem that academic scientists have been puzling over and failing for the last 10- years.
The problem solved is huge and could lead to a cure for aids. real, life changing stuff.
To understand why the gamers could do what the scientists couldn’t, you need to look at some of the characteristics of your average world of warcraft gamer.
High level problem solving skills.
Dedicated to finding solutions to new, complex problems.
Driven by achievement and recognition.
Seeing the game not the problem
It could also be argued that they are great at leadership, recruiting armies, keeping them happy and leading them in to battle, while working out the best strategy and keeping an eye on what stock you have to fight future battles.Lotsof skills that could be transferable to a range of situations.
I love the story of the gamers doing what the scientists and academics couldn’t do, but it does challenge the status quo on how and who we hire, where we might find them, reward them and manage them. I’m really looking forward to discussing this and other areas that span the globe, as well as giving some real examples of how things are changing.
From what I’ve seen so far, I’m going to be in great company.
Ohio, thanks for having me!