The Global Pursuit of Talent

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The Global Pursuit of Talent

The large and growing surplus of tech jobs without enough professionals to fill them is one of the most difficult challenges of the 21st century.  It's especially ironic when the United States faces an underemployment rate of at least 15 percent and the world's underemployment rate approaches 50 percent. 

The problem is that the jobs we need to fill require intelligent, well-educated, career-ready workers — jobs that are being created by the impact of technology across all job sectors.  These job openings are not just the result of new positions in new industries; many of these job openings are caused by the death or retirement of large numbers of highly skilled Baby Boomers.  Replacing these employees and filling the new tech-oriented jobs mean that demand for tech skills of all types will soar in the coming decade.  Consequently developing, recruiting, and retaining tech talent is becoming a critical success factor at both the corporate and national levels. 

This is not simply an American problem; the shortage of talent is being felt throughout the world, and is even a key driver, in many instances, of where companies choose to locate.  They are drawn to areas where there is a large existing or potential supply of skilled people.

At a time of widespread unemployment with so many people looking for work, it's frustrating for employers that they can't find people with the scientific and technical skills they need.  This is especially true for employers in advanced manufacturing industries, as discussed later in this issue. 

Companies no longer need interchangeable high school graduates; they need people with genuine technical skills and knowledge, though not exclusively people with Bachelor's degrees or higher.  This need cuts across jobs in nearly all settings, including offices, production facilities, hospitals, law firms, and service businesses.  But the harsh reality is that technological advancement is moving too fast for most job training and preparation programs to keep up with demand.  This is especially true in the world's three largest workforces:  the United States, China, and India. 

To a large degree, the education-to-employment system in the U.S. is still operating on a model designed and created 100 years ago for the labor market of its day.  Incremental adjustments and reforms to education have done little to prepare people for the jobs of today.

Some critics cite popular culture, as well as our deficient education system, when looking for reasons that so many workers lack the skills employers need.  They say schools have a difficult time generating interest in subjects that lead to careers in science, technology, engineering, and math — the fields collectively called STEM — because today's students are over-entertained and distracted...

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