Skills gaps still need addressing, say 50% of business leaders

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The identification and development of future management candidates, boosting internal skills levels and the creation of a performance-driven culture are the top three challenges facing HR professionals over the year ahead.
According to a study undertaken by HR research and consultancy firm Bersin & Associates, as the economy starts to improve, organisations are turning their attention away from cost-cutting to a renewed focus on tackling globalisation challenges, rebuilding sales growth, fostering innovation and encouraging skills development.
But the survey based on interviews among HR and senior business leaders at 130 companies around the world also revealed that more than half believed their organisations were being held back by skills shortages as they struggled to fill key positions, up from 35% last year.
Skills gaps at the supervisor and mid-management level were particularly marked, but there was also a recognition that emerging talent needed to be identified and developed.
Josh Bersin, the firm's chief executive, warned: "HR organisations are engaging in a 'war for talent' that is different from what we have seen previously. Even emerging economies are not the sources of qualified technical talent they used to be. As a result, organisations need to create a dynamic continuous workforce around that world that can be tapped to meet dynamic business demands."
This talent war was characterised by the so-called 'borderless workplace', in which age, geography, gender and organisational boundaries were disappearing. It meant that HR departments were starting to look at how they could better empower employees, enable them to share knowledge more effectively, build up collaborative leadership skills and employ social media for recruitment and learning purposes.
Bersin said: "We are re-entering a marketplace in which talent will play a vital role. As businesses have shifted their priorities to focus on new production introductions, growth and acceleration in hiring, HR organisations are focusing on programmes to encourage innovation, increase employee engagement and drive individual performance."
As a result, 36% of HR bosses cited the need to tackle globalisation or expansion-related issues as one of their organisation's top two business priorities, while 37% pointed to the 'need to accelerate innovation' as their key focus.
The report entitled 'TalentWatch: First Quarter 2011 – Global Growth Creates a New War for Talent' recommended that they build up high levels of skills among senior workers and new staff as quickly as possible and that they actively establish relationships with prospective employees via enhanced employer branding and social media-based marketing.
It also suggested that they implement integrated talent management applications to help them tackle internal career progression and succession planning more effectively.

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