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Companies face a growing inability to access the vital skills they need to compete successfully and achieve high performance.
In this study, we explore the impact of this issue on business and HR, and we identify seven practices HR can adopt to help organizations access the skills they need, when and where they need them.
Even though millions of people are unemployed, organizations are hard-pressed to find the skills they need. Worldwide, as much as 34 percent of employers are having difficulty filling open positions; the situation is worse in the United States (52 percent), Brazil (57 percent), India (67 percent) and Japan (80 percent).
Even more alarming, only 49 percent of workers reported having all the skills required to perform in their current jobs.
This will intensify over the next decade. Organizations will step up hiring as the global economy improves, while talent supplies are expected to shrink as baby-boomers retire and population growth slows in developed markets. At the same time, demand for highly skilled labor is expected to increase.
Compounding the problem, organizations will need a more diverse range of skills to succeed in a fast-changing business environment.
Educational institutions, key suppliers of skills, are struggling to keep up with the rapid pace of change. Sure, such institutions in emerging economies like Brazil, India and China are now producing workers with higher-level skills. But importing skills from one country to another will likely continue to be a challenge.
As companies race to develop the next generation of products and services, they will continue to need ever more sophisticated and evolving skill sets. If those skill sets are not available and easily tapped, then businesses face losing the race altogether.
To help their companies compete in this new world, HR organizations will need to shift from reactive, supply-side fulfillment of skills to proactive, demand-side fulfillment.
Think about it: “just-in-time” processes helped manufacturing companies reduce costs and improve flexibility by getting materials delivered immediately before they’re needed for production. Likewise, HR organizations will need to develop a “just-in-time” workforce—one that enables them to instantly find and deploy skills when and where they’re required in the business.
The following seven practices can help HR build a "just-in-time" workforce:
Advise the business on how best to close skills gaps. HR professionals can use data modeling, analysis and deep labor expertise to help their organizations find needed skills.
Manage a large, extended workforce. To tap into needed skills quickly, HR can start supporting dynamically configured teams of workers who may not be employees at all.
Use proactive, data-driven talent sourcing. Recruiting professionals and hiring managers will proactively seek out the talent they need and use analytics to identify and attract the individuals they need.
Foster external global talent mobility. With talent often in locations other than where it is needed, HR professionals will need to know how to locate, source and manage talent on a global basis.
Support internal talent mobility. HR will also need to help internal employees move to where their skills are needed inside the organization.
Make skills development part of everyday work. HR organizations will need to help current employees make learning new skills a component of their everyday work.
Make work fully transparent. HR will need to make skills requirements transparent to employees, educational institutions and the broader community.
Diego S. De León is a managing director responsible for learning and collaboration offerings and capabilities within the Accenture Talent and Organization management consulting practice. He is also the lead for Talent and Organization in Europe, Africa, Middle East and Latin America.
He has extensive experience working with international companies, governments and nonprofit organizations in the areas of learning and collaboration, talent management, global operating models, IT implementations, HR cost reduction and culture change. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and has contributed to articles published in in Europe, Africa and Latin America. He is based in Madrid, Spain.
Katherine LaVelle is a managing director in the Accenture Talent and Organization management consulting practice and is responsible for the group’s North America business. She has spent much of her career consulting in the financial services industry, working primarily in North America and Europe, implementing international, large-scale and complex change programs—specifically in the capital markets and retail banking sectors.
Her areas of expertise also include merger integration, operating model and organization design, human resources strategy, sales and service performance and business-driven learning. She is based in Washington, DC.
Susan M. Cantrell is a research fellow at the Accenture Institute for High Performance. She is the coauthor of Workforce of One: Revolutionizing Talent Management through Customization (Harvard Business Press, 2010). She has also coauthored more than 30 articles or book chapters, including Elements of Successful Organizations (The Workforce Institute at Kronos, 2011). She is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
January 22, 2013
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