The need for talent concerning evolving technology has been a heated topic for decades. Today, it’s becoming more necessary as robotics, AI/ML, and other technologies are becoming essential to position your organization for the future.
With the talent shortage and fast-paced technology, it’s becoming harder to meet these needs. But with the right strategy that can identify changes and prepare for them, we can develop a strong team for our organizations.
COVID-19 has shifted the demand for the type of skills and talent we need today. Before the pandemic, new technology was all about efficiency and creating more value for a product. A customer might have walked into a Schnucks grocery store in St. Louis, Missouri and met Tally, a robot that stocks shelves. She would politely introduce herself and tell the customer what she was doing. It was a way to automate shelving, inventory, and save labor costs.
“People usually say they want a human element to their interactions but Covid-19 has changed that.” -Martin Ford, BBC News
When the pandemic hit, Tally became a frontline ‘employee’ filling an essential and new need. While this might be interpreted as a threat to human employees, it’s not entirely accurate. If a store needs more robots like Tally with a shift on health, safety, and less crowded space, they will need talent that can attend to these robots, maintain them, and design functions for them in the future. This reality has been true for virtually every industry, from healthcare to the way we imagine office space.
While countries like the U.S. have lost over 400,000 jobs between 1990-2007 due to automation, and 40 million because of the pandemic, there is now a new wave of job opportunities focused on these evolving technologies and the security required to run them. In the shipping industry alone, there has been a demand for their services for up to ten times what it was before, according to MIT.
As leaders in business around the world, we are all trending for better technologies. We become more efficient and create better value for our clients. As the talent demand shifts and the speed of innovation move rapidly creating a shortage, we can develop a system to get the best talent right when we need it, creating a strong organization positioned for the future.
Developing a Tailored Talent Pool
What do we do when we face a shortage? There are many strategies we can put in place. We can invest in our community, creating passive long term results. We can also develop aggressive tactics focused on recruiting qualified talent where they meet like universities and events. What I have seen, however, as one of the most effective tools, is by investing in a program that actively develops, trains, and creates talent customized exactly to your needs.
Google recently did a phenomenal job for this. They desperately needed engineers and talent qualified to create and maintain their products. Academia and other institutions were not creating enough talent for them. So they decided to tackle the problem themselves by creating certificates and an education program with graduations as little as six months.
Google stated that they will view their certifications as equivalents to college degrees. Not only did they develop a way to create their own talent, but they also developed their recruiting pipeline with a faster turnaround. Instead of looking for talent, they will always have access to it.
Amazon Web Services also initiated certificates that train talent for specific skills and roles. This creates their own talent. It also develops the talent necessary for their clients to hire professionals to manage the use of the platform (creating a living ecosystem for Amazon’s own product).
When we develop our talent through education and training (even charging tuition for it to fund it), we create a talent pipeline that helps us meet growing and shifting demands. We can train those professionals to adopt the DNA, culture, and vision of the brand making them the most qualified professionals to work for you.
Facilitating Continual Education for Current Talent
About 61% of employees believe that their job will be greatly impacted by technology shortly. And it couldn’t be truer for professionals in leadership positions that need to find the right talent for these shifts.
When we invest in our current employees, we decrease our turnover and create powerful synergy and culture. This decreases costs and creates a vibrant, productive team.
While we know the strength of upskilling/reskilling, we often start too late. By creating a program that anticipates changes instead of catching up on them, we position ourselves as leaders in our industry and reap its advantages.
This can be done by identifying where technology is headed and creating educational programs to lay a foundation for a general understanding of the concept. As the need grows, you continue investing in the subject matter. Through in-house programs, partnerships, and incentives (like a book/education fund that finances learning relevant skills), you can put your company ahead, making it much easier to upskill/reskill before you face a shortage or problem.
Another way to develop a strong foundation for continuous education for your team is by enacting open communication. By consistently sharing the trending needs and vision of the organization, employees will follow you along the journey. They will see the importance of growing and shifting skills and operations for the future. They will be more willing to learn a new skill as part of the vision and team goal of the company.
Positioning for the Future
Executives learn early in their careers that to see productive results, it takes a lot of time, dedication, and seeds to be planted to see fruit. Far too many companies get behind because they are too focused on past and present success or a distant future. The businesses that see results are aware of their current success and what it will take to continue it as the future changes demand.
One of the best ways to maneuver towards the future is by being quick to test and slow to adopt. You are open-minded about trying new technologies and very particular about defining and choosing the technologies that help advances the vision for your company.
Hiring trends should complement the future as we “hire for the future”; our lid to growth will always depend on our people and leadership.
Since the pandemic, our talent pool has grown with the acceptance of virtual technologies, making it much easier to find remote team members. This creates a global workforce for us that can use technology in many cases to work as effectively as in person (or better).
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As technology changes rapidly, and 2020 brings more unprecedented challenges, we can find the right talent to prepare us for growth. Using these strategies, we can recruit qualified talent for our companies.