"The War for Talent Is Here, But It Won’t Be a Meltdown"



Interview with David Osborne, Strategy & Workforce Analytics Leader – International at Mercer.

1. Why is there such a "run" on highly qualified talent for digital and tech roles, especially by big players in the more traditional industries?

We are living in a time where digital skills are needed more and more. The Industry 4.0 requires new and ever changing skills. These skills are increasingly digital. As a result, the market is hot and many digital talents know of the talent supply shortages (within many local markets), making the most of the demand.

2. How can companies use data, be it their own or benchmarks, to be one step ahead in this race for the best talents?

Companies looking to recruit digital talents should utilize workforce intelligence to identify which markets to target for specific talents. Using the right data, you can map the supply of talent and demand for specific roles, based on the location you are looking to recruit in. This will help you formulate a strategy that takes into account the varying supply and demand, your competition, and other sources of talent, e.g. recruiting in other countries or upskilling your own workforce.

3. Our research shows a comparatively high turnover rate in some of the most sought-after digital roles out there. What are the reasons for that?

This statement is very region specific. High volume turnover, coupled with short tenures, is a solid proxy for the ‘hotness’ of specific markets.

Many digital talents are making the most of the “gig economy”, e.g. by working on a project by project basis. The goal of many digital talents is, ultimately, to work within environments where they can work on the latest technologies and tools. Because of the hot market, they find it comparatively easy to switch jobs and can therefore go for the opportunities that most interest them.

4. How can organisations react to this trend and retain key talents in their companies?

Looking at the talent within the company, data can help highlight the “at-risk” top-performing talents which will then allow for the implementation of tailored retention mechanisms. One of these could be ongoing learning and development opportunities. Other incentives could be job rotation, international placements and the like.

5. Let’s take a look into the future: How will these challenges develop in the light of the ongoing digitisation of most industries? Will more companies start fighting for less available talent? Are we facing a “talent meltdown”?

These things come in peaks and low points, just like any other trend. There will be a massive influx of digital talents in the near future –  enrolments into faculties that train digital talent has never been higher at universities, technical colleges and the like. We may, however, see a continued pressure on pay levels.

With the shift in the way that workforces are structured, digital skills may be shared more amongst different employers as these talents maximize the different talent pools that they can join, i.e. crowdsourced projects, gig work, part time or whatever other construction is available to them.

The war for talent is here, but it won’t be a meltdown. More and more employers, however, will need to think about upskilling and reskilling talents in order to reduce skill gaps. In 5 years’ time, a whole new set of skills will be in demand, and then the whole cycle will start again.

Download our research report “A Deep Dive Into Shallow Talent Pools” (link to POV page) now to learn more about the challenges in recruiting digital talent today.

To learn more about how Mercer can support your organization, click here.

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