During the recession of the early 2000s, an increasing number of companies sought growth opportunities on a global basis. Nearly 75 percent of all S&P 500 organizations now report some amount of international revenue. But disparity between a company’s global footprint and its ability to address related talent needs has led to a dilemma known as the global capabilities gap.

As leading organizations compete globally for scarce STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and other professional skills, how can you ensure success in finding, developing and retaining the talent you need?

Why the Skills Gap?

In a recent industry survey, three quarters of respondents rated workforce capability as an urgent or important challenge. But only 15 percent of them believe they’re ready to address it. Companies that build a worldwide skills supply chain are better positioned for success in innovation and performance.

The reasons behind the skills gap include:

  • Organizations looking for talent in the wrong places. They believe they can fill the gap by “hiring the right person” in their current markets. Even if companies can identify this desired talent, they still must attract them, compete with others to hire them and train them further on the job. This traditional approach is no longer feasible.
  • It takes time to develop deep skills. For instance, one oil company reported that due to its long-standing investment in proprietary processes, a new engineer requires from five to seven years on the job to become fully autonomous.
  • Companies have not built continuous development programs. Robust capabilities are fostered through continuous education, experience and exposure – not just episodic training. As an employer, you need to consider integrated strategies that encompass formal and informal training, experience sharing, apprenticeships and management support of learning, performance support and coaching.

Create a Global Skills Supply Chain

Examine your capabilities at all organizational levels, as well as your anticipated project needs in the coming years. Then you can develop your global skills strategy.

  • Start at the top. Only 7 percent of nearly 5,300 S&P directors are foreign nationals and only 14 percent have significant international work experience. By contrast, nearly half of all sales in S&P companies with global revenue come from foreign markets. Your board must have a global mindset in order to lead and sustain business in high-growth areas overseas.
  • Search internally and externally. Explore new approaches to accessing talent, building continuous learning opportunities and turning your leaders into capability development champions. Your managers should be accountable for producing deeper levels of talent within their own teams.
  • Bring the work to the skills. Conduct a broader scan of technical and specialist skills around the world and within your own organization. Investigate new talent pools, such as part-time or retired professionals. Foster relationships with schools and universities to deepen your pipeline and build your bench strength.
  • Expand succession planning well beyond the C-suite. Cascade it to include key technical specialists, individuals in critical customer-facing roles and subject matter experts in operations and project management.
  • Make talent development a continuous process. Move away from the “annual training and development” mode and into a systematic, ongoing mindset for learning. Recognize how long it will take to fully develop key skill sets and model the education, experience and exposure necessary to build these capabilities. “Time to proficiency” should be a key business metric.

As you address your corporate capabilities strategy, consider partnering with a professional recruiter from BrainWorks. As you build this relationship, we’ll help you build your shareholder value, enhance your employment value proposition and win the competitive global talent war. Contact us now to learn more.

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