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Prying Loose that Scarce Commodity

In 2010, securing the right talent will be crucial. It could be worthwhile to start looking now.

What has come out of the last year or so could be described as a contradictory outcome. But what has been different this time is that as sharp as we went in, we seem to have emerged more quickly than the experts have predicted. During the gloom some months back, these "experts" predicted that unemployment would peak perhaps 8 or 9% and even some predicted double digits. I recall thinking "No way. What's happening now is that the lack of skills we've experienced over the last 5-10 years will be absorbed and we'll never see that happen. We'll be lucky to get to 7%". And this is now what these "experts" are predicting. Maybe we won't get out of the 6's... The economists manipulate figures. We're at the front line experiencing the reality.

Therefore what does that really mean to the labour market we operate in? Firstly, we still have skills shortages in key professional areas, and especially those that are targeted for growth - infrastructure and engineering, professional services around change and productivity improvement, sales, HR change management. Exacerbated by companies hanging on to good people, this is being supported by those people hankering for security which these economic times demand. The problem here is that the very good people who contribute to the normal churn in employment aren't participating yet, and have to be pried loose at the very least. I can think of many examples in the last year when people would have moved for the sake of change, or dissatisfaction, but have stayed put to maintain security. Probably not that good for productivity or wellbeing though. Risk aversion is one of the key drivers today in many spheres of business and the resources that make business tick.

So then what can drive the change and kick start that essential movement and create a natural churn? For a start, business, employers, organisations, companies - all those entities that engage talent in some way, shape, or form - recognising that to keep sitting on your hands is not going to move things forward. Perhaps sticking a toe in the water and engaging more risk-free contract resources, or taking a bit more risk and employing the talent you need to move forward. And we facilitate this every day. If we don't have the right set of skills for you at our finger tips, we know where to go to find them.

Getting back to unemployment, our rate just announced is 6.5%. In the US, the official rate is 9.8% as I write this - that's 50% higher! Our talent pool is much smaller and more fragile, and as we gear up, the previous skills shortage will be intensified by demand in areas that have already been in high demand. So as the sun sets on 2009 and we gladly see the end of what is touted as the toughest year for as long as many remember, 2010 will dawn with its own set of problems - coping with demand for a new type of skill set and resources to fuel anticipated growth. I suggest starting now because it may take months to either find someone, or pry them loose.

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