Really real: Talent shortages are no longer just a future threat – how D&I can help

Talent shortages are having a high impact on a company’s ability to meet their clients’ needs. One out of five employers in the EMEA region that are in need of additional talent agree with this statement. This is one of the eye-opening results from the 2013 Talent Shortage Survey conducted by the Manpower Group. Especially in Asia but also in the EMEA region, organisations are having enormous difficulties to find enough of the rightly skilled talents now – while everybody thought this was only going to happen ‘some time in the future’.
In 2013, it is still obvious that the recovery from the global recession is happening at a steady but frustratingly slow pace. In many economies, unemployment remains at quite a high level while the creation of new jobs seems to stagnate. This economic environment confronts employers with high uncertainty and they hence seek cost-effective or flexible employment models in order to stay competitive. Despite their reluctance to create FTEs, 26% of all the companies surveyed are struggling to fill such vacancies due to the lack of qualified talents. In the EMEA region 20,000 employers from 24 different countries were interviewed, and many reported the same challenge: Difficulties filling jobs due to a lack of available talents. Hard-to-fill vacancies have become more of an issue in several EMEA labour markets, compared with the results from 2012. Even growth countries like Turkey or Romania report high increases in talent shortage, with 17 percentage points and 9 percentage points respectively.
But then, good talent has always been hard to find – so what is it that makes talent shortage such a pronounced and prospectively growing issue in some EMEA countries? A shortage of candidates with the specific technical competencies and a general lack of applicants are both key phenomena in EMEA – and both have become more prevalent over time. When hiring managers were asked to provide further insight to the question, 36% of them said that the shortcomings of technical competencies were the main issue, followed by 33% referring to a lack of available applicants. 19% answered that they find it hard to attract candidates with the right professional qualifications.
“The findings show clearly that employers have to utilise Diversity Management to address their challenges”, recommends Diversity expert Michael Stuber. They first need to verify their search profiles and identify and remove the biases that might be embedded in the description of the desired candidates. “Subtle or manifest male connotations are most common”, the expert says. Then they need to increase their search radius as well as improve their evaluation and assessment methods in order not to deselect good talent that simply looks or appears different from the expected mainstream candidate. Finally, employers have to ensure that they not only have attractive job offers to make but that the overall package will be attractive, including work culture, work/life integration, international and inter-generational collaboration, and of course interesting perspectives. Together, these approaches will address all of the challenges identified by the current Manpower survey.