3 European Challenges in Talent Management

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Beyond frozen training budgets, a reflection on talent management

Watch out! Europe-and its enterprises-prepare for a distressing tomorrow, with an exacerbated skills shortage that may ensue from freezing investments in education and skills acquisitions (including recruitment) that is the prevailing trend today. This is the finding of a study conducted by Accenture in February 2012 with 500 decision-makers on the subject of the relationship betweengrowth and skills (“Turning the tide: how Europe can rebuild skills and generate growth”). At the current rhythm marked by shrinking training budgets (86% of employers surveyed say they have frozen or cut these), and with economic growth of 0.5% per year forecasted (optimistic!), it would take up to2019 for Europe to return to 2008 employment levels.

“Aware that they should instead invest against the trend, employers are making efforts to find solutions,” says Fernand Dimidschstein, Managing Partner at Accenture France Benelux. The Accenture study looks into three possible indicators that have been poorly explored so far, as evidenced by the inexorable rise of unemployment and, in parallel, the low workforce mobility.

1. The first indicator is the pool of untapped talent within millions of unemployed Europeans. A pool that is certainly not homogeneous, as marked by the difficulties the youth, older people, women face for entering or remaining in the labour market. According to the Accenture survey, 67% of those surveyed believe for instance, that the skills of older workers are undervalued.

2. The second indicator targets at insufficient mobility, not only from one country to another, from one company to another, but also within firms—clearly showing weak skills management. According to Accenture, too many companies are trying to pull down their own barriers and fail to identify the competencies of their business.

3. The third indicator, in reaction to the signs of a lack of collaboration between sectors, the majority of those surveyed admit that there is something of that. And these reckon (some 55%) that they can help create” multi-industry talent pools”. Will they? In any case, they will have a motive to do so.

The Accenture study also addresses policy makers. In the face of this growing awareness (still hesitant), the suggested actions embrace concrete initiatives which are more likely to turn the tide in the short or medium term.

For example, introducing flexible time or job rotation within companies. As always, it is all about strengthening partnerships with schools and universities, but also with industry networks that bring together large and small businesses, and of course, to work towards reducing the administrative burden as much as possible of these potential initiatives. Accenture highlights what will equip and cultivate all of this: investing in the collective and analysing data “to design the profile of internal talent“, and monitor the effects of what is being done. In other words, good skills and talent management—something that is decidedly in tune with the times and not just hot air or empty words. Besides flexible schedules, flexibility, job rotation, there’s also a need for solid time and activities management. So HR directors, get cracking on the job!

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