Business Impact

Supply and Demand, the Battle for Knowledge and Skills

Today’s marketplace is like a death match for talent. The companies with the savviest learning leaders — who can grow internal talent pipelines fastest — will win.

Boxing ring corner and floodlights , Boxing eventThe world is changing incredibly fast, and like hamsters on the spinning wheel, learning leaders are trying to keep up. Sadly, many of us are running faster and faster and falling ever further behind. The issue here is not the state of the world, but how we are reacting to it.

Best practice is becoming an ever-elusive guiding principle when it comes to the external realities impacting corporate human capital strategy, and the learning required to implement those strategies. For instance, consider the supply and demand for the talent, skills and knowledge needed to compete in the global economy.

Let’s begin with the demand side of the equation. As I write this there are 5.6 million unfilled positions in the U.S. economy. New job creation has held steady at more than 150,000 new hires per month and the unemployment rate is below 5 percent. Despite much hand-wringing and teeth gnashing from Wall Street analysts, this data clearly shows significant demand for new talent.

Further, more than 90 percent of the new positions filled since the 2007-08 financial meltdown have been filled by individuals with post-secondary education. So, the excess talent that was available in American labor markets is being soaked up by organizational recruitment efforts. Demand is healthy and even accelerating.

On the supply side, there are also important developments. Recently, the nonprofit website O*Net added a new dimension to its extremely valuable databases. The new data set, one of special importance to CLOs, is called “Hot Technologies.” Consider:

  1. These technologies have been scrubbed from Internet job posting sites, so companies are actively looking for them. It’s a window into demand, and companies are competing to hire, searching for skills, knowledge and experience. Your company is likely in this demand mix.
  2. These hot technologies are not very familiar to learning leaders. Here is a sampling of a few skills and knowledge in demand: Citrix software, Drupal, FileMaker Pro, Google adWords, McAfee software, MySQL, Python, Ruby on Rails, PHP, etc.
  3. The current hot technologies inventory as of August 25, 2016, was 170 technologies and growing.
  4. Finally, one of the most common recruiting requirements — three to five years of experience — has some important implications. Many of these technologies did not exist five to 10 years ago. There was no place to acquire the desired experience. And those early adopters of some of these really critical technologies — people with experience — are in such critical demand you don’t want to have to compete to hire them on the open market. They are far more expensive than your senior management is likely willing to budget for.

The bottom line for the CLO is that between the supply and demand, you and your organization had better quickly implement a learning strategy to grow your own talent. The skills, knowledge and experience your organization will need today, and even more so tomorrow, will have to be home grown. You simply will not be able to hire them.

Beyond the acquisition of valuable knowledge and skills, experience will be the significant value dimension. Develop and retain will be the mantra that will win in this incredibly dynamic world we’re all competing in today.

The good news is the CLO role is more critical than ever. The bad news is there is a long way to go to fulfill those critical needs today and tomorrow, and if you are still not convinced, go to www.burning-glass.com to see a snap shot of this head-spinning world as it wizzes by your window.

Michael E. Echols is principle and founder of Human Capital LLC and author of “Your Future Is Calling.” Comment below, or email editor@CLOmedia.com.

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