Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Talent Investing

"While the articles highlight different causes, they are unanimous in concluding that,'talent is the new oil and just like oil, demand far outstrips supply.'"

The Monitor Group, A Return of The Talent Wars? Implications for Workforce and Economic Development Professionals," The Monitor Group, July 2008.

This review of recent "talent" books and articles starts from the premise that it's not possible to just hire "job-ready" people when you need them. Nor is it cost effective to use old models of internal career development that assumes accurate occupational forecasting.

(I do realize unemployment way up and that talent discussions frequently focus only on high end jobs if we are not careful).

The authors turn instead to the analogy of "supply chain management." There are lots of things internal to the firm that can be done better and differently, but I was intrigued by the focus moving outside the firm to external, environmental factors that should be managed and improved.

"Upgrade your region's quality of life;
Cultivate a broad array of educational institutions and training
programs;
Foster collaboration among companies that have similar training needs;
Build robust industry sectors"

Sound familiar: sectors, career pathways, workforce partnerships?

A contrasting approach is to be found in Vivek Wadhara's, "What the U.S. Can Learn from Indian R&D," in the July 23 Business Week.Again, the story is about engineers, but it has broader applicability for all employers.

"The achievements of companies in India show that employee investment, development, and empowerment are central and critical means to building and sustaining long-term competitiveness and innovation capacities in a global knowledge economy."

What if we put these ideas together: Regions rich in educational networks and specialization; firm collaborations and cost sharing for training, and sectors or industry clusters as focal points; and all firms deeply commited to growing and investing in talent at all levels of their firms.

What would a federal workforce and education policy look like to make this happen?

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