The growing talent gap in the USA is weighing heavily on the minds of 80 percent of the country’s CEOs. An ever-increasing concern, leaders across the nation have spent the past several years considering options and opportunities for attracting, cultivating, and retaining talented employees in the face of a shrinking pool of top prospects. To understand the reason for this gap and the potential for not only mitigating its effects but reversing the tide in favor of your company, companies need to look both outside at the current workforce training landscape and inside at the corporate culture, especially the recruitment and development processes in place.
For decades, institutions of higher education and training focused almost entirely on abstract theory, liberal arts, and critical thinking. The curriculum did not often, however, include much technical training – especially for anyone outside of narrow STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) tracks. Nor, for that matter, did national culture encourage entry into many of these fields, further reducing the potential for the inclusion of skills-based training into advanced degrees and higher education.
Ask any corporate director or executive officer if this is a current problem and the answer is most likely a resounding “yes.” The structure of higher education wasn’t perceived as lacking until fairly recently – that is, until technology removed the natural barriers between fields and created a need for a highly attuned, mixed skills set in virtually every training profession. Simply put, graphic designers needed to know how to code websites, software engineers needed to understand social media platforms, medical doctors needed to understand virtual file rooms and server access, and attorneys needed to understand B2B marketing – all because technology transformed the way in which every professional occupation performs its job functions.
As the need for an expansive skill set increased across industries, employers started to feel the burden of this growing talent gap – a talent pool no one had thought to produce just years earlier. However, regardless of the reasons why there is a growing talent gap in the USA, one thing is certain: Savvy employers need to learn to navigate the challenges and seize the opportunities to be competitive in their hiring.
Competing for top talent requires a strong company culture, an ongoing professional development program, and an ability to provide competitive opportunities. This means recognizing that once you hire top talent, you have an ongoing obligation to both your employees and your company’s future to continue to evolve, progress, and develop. Even more so, communicating these opportunities to the public is critical to getting your company on the radar of your industry’s most talented contributors.
Highlighting these opportunities so that talented prospective employees feel they will be able to grow with a forward-thinking, progressive company is also extremely important. This includes showcasing how your company empowers under-served groups, and how it contributes to the greater society. This can be a tremendous undertaking, but worthwhile in the long term.
About the author
David is Univerum’s Global Vice President of Product and Head of Digital for the Americas