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Reframing the talent agenda

The shift, the race and the riddle

The world’s working age population has tripled from 1.5 billion in 1950 to 4.5 billion in 2010 and is expected to grow to 6 billion by 2050. And yet talent remains a top concern for business leaders around the world—a concern that is very pronounced in Asia and in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The concern is not the availability of workers. Rather, it is the apparent shortage of critical skills and experiences that leaders, managers, and workers require in jobs that are changing.

Over the past decade, as the global economy has become hyperconnected, a truly global market for talent and skills is emerging. As the global consumer and talent markets grow increasingly interconnected, we are seeing new patterns and priorities emerge in what has, for the past 15 years, been referred to as the “war for talent.” We believe the next challenge is the war to develop talent. A number of shifts and trends are presenting new opportunities for business leaders focusing on the ongoing importance of developing critical talent, leaders, and skills.

Recently we have been discussing the talent paradox as a shorthand to describe talent markets with apparent shortages of skills and leaders in labour markets with available—and willing—workers that do not have the required or expected skills and experiences. That’s the employer view of the talent paradox. The employee view of the same paradox is focused on workers making do where they are, accepting less job mobility and, in some, markets less compensation. At the same, time we are seeing growing employee focus on the meaning and social impact of their work, professional development, and opportunities to attain greater levels of responsibility and challenge.

A reframing of the talent agenda is taking place in response to the major changes in the emerging global talent landscape. Many of the approaches and perspectives for talent management are based on earlier models, some from the late 19th century, built on factories, supply chains, and personnel administration. The emerging shifts and challenges in global talent markets suggest the need for new insights to shape the talent agenda. To gain perspective on these changes, this article considers recent research and insights from business academics and researchers who provide important perspectives on these changes.

Reframing the talent agenda
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