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Why openness to change can help close the talent gap

April 17, 2019

Vinod Kumar   

Former Managing Director and Group CEO Tata Communications

Businesses succeed based to a greater or lesser extent on the level of talent in their workforce. We are all more aware of the positive impact talent performance has on our broader objectives of growth, job creation and innovation. Technology, whilst hotly debated, will not replace the workforce, rather it will allow the workforce to develop and prosper, provided we are all open to new technology, ideas and ways of working.

The ability to enable, attract, grow and retain the workforce successfully is essential not only for businesses but also for nations and cities. The latest annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI), which Tata Communications is contributing to for a second time, benchmarks the ability of countries and cities to compete for talent.

An increasing GDP gap

In line with previous GTCI reports, higher ranking countries have a direct correlation with higher GDP per capita. The top positions in the GTCI ranking continue to be dominated by developed, high-income countries. The role of income becomes even more evident when it shows all but a few of the 43 coun­tries in the top two quartiles are high-income countries. It is clear we are seeing an increase in the gap between the richest and poorest countries.

The developed developing?

The widening inequality gap in talent competitiveness is down to the difference in average income. However, the case for talent competitiveness being solely a result of income falls away when we consider the environment countries are operating in. Generally speaking, more developed countries are less susceptible to political and socioeconomic fluctuations. The opposite is the case in developing countries which can be more affected by changes – both positive and negative.

This poses the question for countries of what they can do in order to reduce the impact of the talent competitiveness gap. One difference we have seen is developed countries seeking to understand the need to advance workforce skills. It is this drive to address the skills gap which is leading to the introduction of resolute measures and improved policies, both of which are driving talent competitiveness.

Taking an entrepreneurial route

For countries to keep up with the talent champions of Switzerland, Singapore and the USA, which lead this year’s index, they must foster a more entrepreneurial approach. As economies evolve and technology plays a greater role in the workplace, embracing innovation is essential. We have seen small firms begin to take an entrepreneurial approach, but now in larger organisations and governments entrepreneurial talent must play a critical role.

Technology should be at the heart of these changes. AI is one example of technology, which has the potential to transform how we think about talent and transform traditional roles at the same time, making jobs more productive, creative, and ultimately more fulfilling. Embracing this technology will require employees to learn new skills, and new management approaches to be developed; it won’t be enough for organisations to continue as they are. Likewise, businesses need to develop new talent strategies which create a culture in which entrepreneurship can thrive. It will require a strategy for the workforce which better reflects a firm’s life cycle. If we are to truly futureproof our workforce, new tactics in management must be introduced at every step.

The role of cities

It isn’t just entrepreneurialism that can make a difference to a country’s competitiveness. Cities are increasingly playing a part in a country’s talent competitiveness. As more of an emphasis is placed on organisations and employees being innovative, incubators and accelerators, formed by cities to support businesses, are gaining relevance. As a result we will see new smart city strategies emerge, linked to local issues. The need to increase talent competitiveness and consequently improve will mean cities, like businesses, must understand the change which needs to occur. It means transforming into a world in which an organisation’s workforce – much like technology itself – cannot afford to stand still. Cities and organisations will need new ideas, an openness to new approaches and a commitment to continuous improvement.

A theme of change

The latest GTCI Index signposts an interesting challenge ahead for cities and countries which are not yet seen as talent champions. The importance of talent cannot be underestimated; irrespective of the role technology will play in the future. However, we must, as organisations, cities and countries, look to embrace an open, tech-first mindset.

Technology can benefit our workforce by enabling employees to reach their full potential, provide opportunities and help solve the challenges in developed and developing cities. We must realise the benefit of an adaptable, progressive approach. We have an opportunity to use technology to stimulate new approaches to talent and help close the talent competitiveness gap.

 

Read more from Vinod on why it’s important to address the talent gap in his previous blog.