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The Importance of Recruiting and Retaining Global Talent

Declan Mulkeen

24 Jan 2017

You might be forgiven for wondering if the trend towards more and more globalisation is about to end given recent political events in some Western countries. However, while there may be some hiccups along the way the globalisation machine will continue to move forward. Recruiting and retaining global talent forms a key strategic objective as organisations seek to grow their international footprint and stay one step ahead of the competition.

recruiting and retaining global talent

Recruiting and Retaining Global Talent

As markets mature back home, Western organisations, in particular, recognise that to survive, they must thrive beyond their borders. This business principle is also shared by many organisations in other maturing markets such as Singapore or Middle East Gulf countries.

Recruiting and retaining global talent forms a key strategic objective as organisations seek to grow their international footprint and stay one step ahead of their competitors.

Attracting Global Talent

The best organisations are likely to attract the best talent. These are organisations with an excellent reputation. Their reputations include market leadership, but also include how well they treat their employees and whether their employees see the organisation as a place where they can utilise their skills and build a solid career.

These organisations must also remain competitive, allowing them to retain both market leadership and top notch employees.

Global Competitiveness

Global talent doesn’t simply arrive at an organisation. Organisations must compete for the brightest and best employees.

However, the ability for these organisations to obtain the best talent is determined in part by the country where they are located. The global talent pool in some countries is deep. In other countries, the need is strong for importing talent. Some countries make it relatively easy for skilled migrants to migrate; others are less welcoming.

An article published in Relocate Magazine cites an INSEAD publication that identifies the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) of nearly 100 countries. Unsurprisingly, most of the world’s great economies are near the top of this list.

The Opportunities

Not all countries are equally prepared to welcome global talent.

The INSEAD study recognises several critical factors that impact how global talent is likely to view a country’s desirability. How countries regard these factors may indicate how well they are likely to perform in future when globalisation is even more important.

Global talent doesn’t simply arrive at an organisation. Organisations must compete for the brightest and best employees.

1. Openness

Openness begins with an open mind. It also translates into action – open trade, open investment, open immigration. Regarding challenges as opportunities to grow a business, not stifle it, is a necessary mindset.

2. Competitiveness

Countries that offer political and social stability recognise that a competitive economic environment often stretches talent to perform their best. This, in turn, contributes to the economic stability of the country. It also enhances its reputation, increasing its attraction to high-quality global talent.

The study acknowledges wide gaps, especially in young adult unemployment figures in the US and many European countries.

3. Growth

Just because a country’s economy has been historically strong doesn’t mean this will automatically continue. Global talent must grow within organisations, providing new ideas and innovation to prepare for future success. Smart organisations look both within their country as well as externally for a good blend of viewpoints.

4. Education

Most of the world’s most successful economies reach far beyond utilising their natural resources. They are knowledge-based, service economies. Countries that recognise that there are specific requirements for global talent in a post-industrial economic environment also recognise the need for a flexible and adaptable approach to education.

This is mandatory if they are to prepare for a future economy that will demand a mix of skills that are very different to those required a generation ago.

Looking Ahead: The Challenges

Many countries are failing to develop and nurture their homegrown global talent. Often, this is due to the shortcomings of an education system that is outdated or inadequate to address the practical needs of their economy.

Countries need to address their weakest links in their education systems.

Of course, literacy and numeracy are musts. But so is technical knowledge. Knowing how to play the latest video game or connect to trending social media platforms is not enough. Understanding how technology works and gaining employable, marketable skills is the formula for success for anyone expecting to compete in the global talent market.

Countries need to address their weakest links in their education systems. White, working-class British boys continue to fall behind. Collectively, so do poor African American boys, tribal girls from Pakistan and rural children from India to parts of Africa and Latin America.

The mismatch between employer requirements and local, unemployed youth is astonishing. INSTEAD acknowledges wide gaps, especially in young adult unemployment figures in the US and many European countries. These young adults have had full access to education in their home countries, but something failed to make them employable. Systems need to be reviewed. More often than not companies must step in and develop them further.

In the meantime, if Brexit, a Donald Trump Presidency, and the potential for several European countries to follow suit turns countries inward, these countries will need to ask difficult questions about the future of their economies.

If they are already importing global talent due to economic need, what happens if they make it arduous or even unpleasant for global talent to stay? What about their future need for global talent? After all, other countries know that they can compete for the brightest and best as well.

There has never been a time when organisations and the countries setting economic policy have needed to be more nimble. Is your organisation doing all it can with its policies and strategies for recruiting and retaining global talent? More broadly, is your country aiding or hindering global growth? Or will your organisation need to rethink its place in the global economy?