Wednesday November 8, 2017
‘Nations are neglecting or wasting, on average, 38% of their talent.’ This is one of the claims made by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in their 2017 Human Capital Report, published recently.
The report is driven by the latest data from the WEF’s Global Human Capital Index which ranks countries on how effectively they’re developing their ‘human capital’ (i.e. the knowledge and skills people possess that enable them to create economic value). It got us thinking about how much of what is being reported globally has in common with our experiences ‘closer to home’.
Given that nations aren’t realising the potential of their people, the WEF argue for ‘a human-centric vision of the future of work, one where people acquire and use their knowledge and creativity as key drivers of a prosperous and inclusive economy.’
It’s not all bad news. The report found that today’s global population is generally better educated than previous generations, irrespective of location, with an increasing number of people holding professional qualifications across a broad spread of interests/skills.
However, the four other core findings left room for improvement;
- ‘Youth, women and older people still do not get the opportunities they want in most labour markets.’ This is contrary to the improving trend in education and reflected in issues such as the well-publicised gender pay gap. The WEF suggest that many people see a future in digital opportunities rather than traditional forms of work.
- ‘We need to reform education for the next generation. But that alone is not enough. We also need to up-skill the current workforce.’ In other words, an education system is required that prepares the next generation for economic models and jobs yet unknown whilst investing in the current workforce so that they can likewise adapt and be future-ready.
- ‘Business and educational institutions need to deepen their collaboration on education, re-skilling and up-skilling across the globe.’ What the WEF are actually saying is that many businesses needs to rethink their ‘short-term’ view of people as a financial burden to be minimised, and instead see the development of workforces as both an investment and social obligation.
- ‘Too many employers and governments around the world are focused on a narrow talent pool.’ The WEF see an over-reliance on both highly-skilled small pockets of people and cheap labour to fuel innovation and economic growth respectively, and argue that instead nations should open up the opportunity provided by the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ (i.e. one driven by digitisation and artificial intelligence) to broaden the talent base and offer more fulfilling work to more people.
But are these grand global aspirations being realised here in the UK as we see it through our relationship with both major organisations and smaller entrepreneurial businesses?
While it’s fair to say that the focus on development is often the first casualty in businesses under acute financial pressure, Vana Resourcing has recently worked with a number of major organisations to introduce Heads of Talent and Development, and their subsequent teams. In fact, almost a third of our appointments over the last 12 months have been for talent specialists, ranging from emerging Talent Managers to Heads of Organisational Design. We’ve also noted clients taking a much more holistic approach to investing in their talent from entry level (i.e. apprenticeships and graduates).
Through all of this we are seeing HR integral to making workforces future-ready. At its best HR is an enabler, focused on attracting, developing - and retaining - the best talent, and creating a culture of engagement and shared goals. Additionally, we are seeing more and more of our clients doing away with traditional performance reviews and moving instead to ongoing conversations around goals and performance. All of this supports the fluid, adaptable and agile cultures that HR Leaders are responsible for developing which appeal to a more mobile and empowered workforce.
“Whilst it’s hard to argue with the findings of the WEF Human Capital Report, we believe that HR professionals and functions are already delivering against these,” says Vana co-Director Jo White.
“Yes, different organisations are moving at different speeds, but there is enough from our experience to suggest that the overall trend of companies investing in people and culture is positive and one where HR are in the driving seat.”
You can read the Global Human Capital Report 2017 in more detail here.