Talent Tales January 2015
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Conference Board (New York, New York) report From Not Enough Jobs to Not Enough Workers foresees the potential emergence of labor shortages in "scores of" professions in the United States. Report coauthor Gad Levanon argues that such labor shortages would result in reduced corporate growth in the future. Baby Boomers' reaching retirement age and younger generations' avoiding some fields will put pressure on employers to find talent. Not all industry observers share this dire outlook, but other considerations are becoming more important as well. According to a report by the United Nations Environment Programme (Nairobi, Kenya), island countries such as Antigua, Dominica, Granada, and Samoa are losing half or more of their resident populations. Young talent is leaving these countries in response to the lack of professional opportunities they provide. Such emigration could put economic pressure on countries and even entire regions. In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Roger L. Martin, former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), posits that maintaining a viable economy requires addressing inequality of income and other issues and developments that are hostile to talent.
Corporations are already experimenting with a range of practices to address various labor-market issues. Some of these practices are questionable, and others are actually detrimental to job creation. Some companies looking for software engineers are losing interest in conventional career fairs and relying more on skill-based competitions (so-called hackathons, for example) to identify talent. Other companies are using somewhat controversial strategies to attract talent. For example, Apple (Cupertino, California) and Facebook (Menlo Park, California) have started offering female employees a financial benefit that they can apply toward the cost of oocyte cryopreservation—the process of extracting, freezing, and storing a woman's eggs for later use. Some observers see this offer as a genuine benefit that will attract female employees, whereas others view it as companies' telling potential female employees that they cannot succeed professionally unless they put motherhood on hold. Perhaps most indicative of future developments is many employers' reacting to increasing labor costs in developing countries by replacing human workers with automated labor.