According to a piece in the current issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, in order to get a global read on HR Management practices a survey was recently conducted by Boston Consulting Group and the World Federation of People Management Associations. A total of 5,561 HR professionals in 109 countries were consulted on topics such as skills gaps in 10 – 20 years; measures taken during the recent recession and whether they would continue; and a comparison of HR priorities in 2009 compared to 2010.

Here is what the survey showed.

The Skills Gaps survey looked at 10 countries and 10 industries over the next 10 – 20 years and gaps ranged from no pressing talent gap to very high talent shortage. The countries were Canada, U.S., Brazil, Sweden, U.K., Russia, India, China, Japan and Australia. The industries were Manufacturing, Utilities, Construction, Technology, Trade, Hospitality, Financial Services, Real Estate, Health care and Education.

Most countries, the U.S included showed some gaps in all of the industries. For example the U.S. showed very high talent shortages over the next 20 years in construction, technology, trade, financial services, health care and education. Japan showed very high talent shortages in every industry while Brazil and Sweden showed no pressing talent gap in all industries.

If you are in the talent acquisition business, internal/external recruiter or recruiting consulting/RPO firm like our company, the future looks awfully bright. With the possible exception of Brazil and Sweden, every country cited will experience some severe talent shortage in a number of industries. If you currently specialize in the industries where shortages will exist continue to do so, become more visible, more of an expert and train your staff for the coming client demand. If you don’t currently specialize in any of the shortage-forecasted industries begin to research those industries and building your reputation.

When the HR professionals were asked about measures taken during the recession and whether they would continue some interesting responses come out.

· More companies plan to hire temporary employees than they did during the recession

· More companies plan to increase the use of part-time workers

· More companies plan to force employees to take vacations

· More companies plan to increase early retirement

· More companies plan to no longer payout overtime

· And even though fewer companies plan to cut back on recruiting staff, the number of companies is still considerable.

All of this would indicate a great number of opportunities for those of us in the Talent Acquisition space; a greater demand for a contingent/temporary workforce and a source for those workers; a knowledge/skills drain from early retirement creating a need for proper succession planning initiatives; and lastly fewer internal recruiters facing greater demands from hiring managers will create opportunities for firms like ours that offer flexible on-demand sourcing and recruiting engagements tailored to fit the needs of the client company.

And finally, when a list of current HR priorities from the survey was compared to a
list of priorities from 2009 some interesting shifts in priorities appeared,

· Managing work/life balance went from number 4 in 2009 to number 16

· Measuring workforce performance went from number 9 in 2009 to number 4 in 2010

There were other slight changes, but the most revealing information was that of the ten priorities listed for each year, talent acquisition was not on the list. Every priority listed was employee related, not sourcing, screening and selection related.

So, what may the future hold? From my perspective I see multiple opportunities in industries where we currently have a presence and industries where we could develop some expertise. I see an even greater need for our type of service offerings as more companies continue to reduce recruiting staff, force more early retirement and place more emphasis on a contingency workforce. And I see even greater opportunities in promoting and teaching companies how critical finding and hiring the best talent is to their overall success. Talent acquisition should always be a company’s top priority, year in and year out.

Now, what about you, have you seen the future? Is it bright, full of promise and opportunities? If not I know a woman down the street who reads palms.

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