A couple of hundred years ago, talent (or labor) was a simple commodity. The rich and powerful had access to as much labor as they needed, and those with the discipline and ability to work, did. The supply-chain, and the transaction between employer and employee, was straightforward. But that was then.
Now, despite global economic instability, and large variations in employment rates, finding the right people is harder than ever. The US unemployment rate hovers at nine percent. In Germany, it’s 6.6 percent (but go find an engineer), in Japan it’s 4.7 percent, but you can’t find a medical professional, literally, to save your life; in Russia it’s 6.1 but in Singapore it’s 1.9 percent.1
This is what we call ‘talentomics’—the ‘economics of talent’—and the supply-demand equation that underpins it has changed.
If Karl Marx were alive today, he would be pleased to see his theory in practice. Now, we really are operating in a knowledge economy, and the means of production truly rests in the hands of the worker. But, this shift can, and does, present unique challenges for HR and for business.
I like to sum these challenges up by explaining to HR professionals that their job is now about getting to grips with a new ‘talent’ supply-chain.
Think of it this way: if you gave me two kilograms of the finest, freshest Korean cabbage, and asked me to make kimchi with it, we’d have a problem. I think it involves spicing and burying, but that’s about it. However, I have Korean friend who know how to make it perfectly, without having to look at a recipe or follow any instructions.
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