Preparing for the Looming Talent Shortage Will Enhance Your Company's Effectiveness
by Catherine C. Candland

With all the downsizings making headlines for the past few years, it's hard to imagine that we will soon be faced with too few skilled, qualified workers. But, based on a combination of several factors, a Talent shortage in the not-so-distant future is inevitable.

A key driver is that Baby Boomers are nearing retirement, and subsequent "generations" haven't been nearly as sizeable. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that there will be 10 million more open positions than available workers in 2010, and the Employment Policy Foundation (EPF) projects that this gap will grow to 35 million by 2030!

And that's only part of the story.

As the "knowledge economy" continues to evolve, jobs will require more education and specialized skills. Occupations requiring post-secondary training or a college degree will increase to 42 percent by 2010 according to BLS, and to 65 percent by 2030 according to EPF. Currently, only 38 percent of the American labor force has a two-year college degree or higher. Therefore, unless there is a dramatic shift in educational attainment ratios, the situation is even bleaker than the population statistics indicate.

Furthermore, the concept of being a "free agent" is becoming more and more popular among workers. Those with skills high in demand will no doubt have the luxury of choosing their assignments.

To remain competitive, companies need to start planning now for the quantitative and qualitative workforce changes with which they will soon be faced. Clearly, recruitment, retention, and training will be critical. However, a "holistic" approach to Talent - one that doesn't focus exclusively on traditional W-2 employees - will reap the greatest rewards and return.

Many best-in-class companies have already implemented "blended staffing" strategies whereby they maintain a core group of employees to perform work related to the organization's area of specialization and competitive strength, and assign projects that are essential, yet non-core, to contingent Talent - or they outsource these functions entirely to a firm with expertise in those areas. Doing so not only helps them better contain or reduce costs by paying for the Talent they need only when they need it, but also facilitates corporate agility.

The success of a blended Talent strategy, however, very much depends upon the selected sources of this Talent.

First, the provider(s) must be committed to positioning themselves as your strategic partner. This involves gaining deep insight into your company's culture, operations, and business cycles and needs in order to create a customized staffing plan and worker "fit" profiles.

Second, they must leverage candidate relationships by fostering a robust community of Talent. This involves developing a genuine understanding of each individual's skills and interests, and staying in regular contact by offering value-added information, networking opportunities, etc.

Together, these activities enable the provider to consistently place the right people in the right jobs at the right time.

While future business demands cannot be predicted with absolute certainty, utilizing a mix of core (fixed) and contingent (variable) Talent will ensure alignment, at any given time, between your organization's workforce and its strategic goals. This will not only improve employee utilization, but also your company's productivity, competitive positioning, and return on human capital investment, thus bottom-line results.

Catherine C. Candland is founder, CEO and President of Advantage Human Resourcing, a leading provider of professional and support-level Talent. For more information visit or call 1-800-WORKING.

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