Posted on 07 Nov 2011

It’s so hard to get good help these days.

Despite the tough business environment.

Despite cost cutting and downsizing.

Despite even rising unemployment.

Because it is not an issue of quantity: in numbers, there is no labor shortage. The issue is quality: technical, professional and leadership skills are required everywhere, and are in limited supply. So much so, that the term critical skills has now become an accepted segment of most organizations’ workforce mix. And they are deemed critical, because they represent the skills that differentiate between being able to deliver business strategy, or failing to.

In response, HR practitioners are devising every possible talent acquisition, development and retention strategy they can. In a recent conference address, leading software firm, Atlassian, shared their innovative talent sourcing strategies, amongst which were employee referral bonuses of $10,000 for successful introductions, and up to $20,000 for introducing candidates with those illusive critical skills[i].

Despite the knowledge economy and better, broader access to higher education and learning than ever before, the world is simply not producing enough of the skills required to satisfy public and private sector demand. China produces 8.5 million graduates per annum,  yet fewer than 10% of these are deemed suitable for working in multi national corporations. China needs more than 75,000 qualified managers to lead functional operations, and has a stock of less than 5,000. No wonder then that wage inflation ranges between 10-40%. A similar situation exists in India, where wages have also increased by over 35%, threatening the ongoing price competitiveness of these markets[ii].

And the appetite for headcount growth is increasing. Recent global survey results forecast the demand for labor growth to be highest in the emerging markets, with China at 40%, India 29% and Latin America 26&, whilst double digit growth is still anticipated in USA 17%, Western Europe 13% and Australia 11%[iii].

World economic affairs have served to distract global employers from an underlying labor shortage that is becoming a greater reality each day, and suppressed economic demand has created a false sense of security about the quantity and quality of the global talent pipeline.

Want to explore more of what the future of work is expected to look like? Check out the latest HR developments and trends on our blog.



[i] Nugyen, S. “How to make recruitment campaigns stand out”. Atlassian presentation at RecruitTECH Conference, Canberra, 8 Sept 2011.

[ii] Efendiaoglu, A.M. & Murray, L.W. (2007). Globalization and labor: Needs, means and returns. The Business Review, Cambridge, 8(1), 266-271.

[iii] IBM Research (2010). CHRO Study: Working beyond borders.