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Cath Everett

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Talent top priority for CEOs

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Talent management has become the number one preoccupation among chief executives at global organisations this year because skills shortages are becoming increasingly apparent as they gear up for renewed growth.
 

According to a survey among 1,201 chief executives in 69 countries undertaken by management consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers, emerging Asia-Pacific markets are being viewed by bosses in Western Europe as key to generating revenue growth in 2011, although the US is still the second most popular growth market behind China.
 
Higher levels of confidence in the current economic climate also mean that 51% of respondents expect to hire again over the next 12 months, up from 39% last year. Only 16% anticipate cutting jobs, on the other hand, down from 25% in 2010. The most bullish sectors in this regard were chemicals, automotive and manufacturing.
 
But two thirds of chief executives believed that the major challenge they faced over the next three years was the limited supply of candidates with the right skills, particularly in high growth markets such as China, India and some parts of Latin America.
 
The report indicated that skills shortages were not limited to such emerging markets, however. “Voluntary turnover declined in mature economies during the recession, but historical trends demonstrate that it will return. As a result, talent is at the top of the agenda for global CEOs.”
 
Recruiting and integrating younger employees into the workforce (54%) was also seen as a problem as was losing top talent to rivals (52%) and being able to provide staff with attractive career paths (50%).
 
As a result, most senior managers said that they planned to use more ‘non-financial’ rewards such as training and mentoring staff as well as providing them with clear career progression routes in a bid to try and attract and retain talent more effectively.
 
Spreading employee stock ownership more widely was considered another useful retention tool as was finding ways to develop and deploy employees globally, for example, by providing local offices with greater independence in dealing with managerial talent issues. Because global talent sourcing is not yet a reality, however, over half of chief executives said that they intended to send more staff on international assignments over the year ahead.
 
But the scale of the skills shortage problem was also leading to some new thinking in order to tap its underused resources – although action remained limited. For instance, although fewer women than men were economically active in nearly every country in the world, only 11% of chief executives were planning to make ‘significant changes’ to policies aimed at attracting and keeping more female employees.
 
Few have altered policies (10%) in relation to older workers either, however, even though they constitute another underused talent pool and there is an awareness that the retirement of large numbers of baby-boomers could cause problems. Some 54% of bosses said they were looking at more effective ways of recruiting and keeping younger staff, however.
 
Because of these skills shortage issues, some 54% of respondents said that they intended to work with government and educational establishments in future in an attempt to improve the available talent pool.

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