What were to happen if employees across the country vanished but there were no replacements to fill the positions? The same thing that happens to lake without rain – a drought.
Census data shows that we are now entering into a massive nationwide “talent drought”. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of US citizens, 45-64 years, old increased by 31.5%, while citizens aged 25-44 years decreased by 3.4%[i]. Within 20 years, nearly 30% of the workforce will be retiring. Some sources have even gone as far as to compare the shortage to the Bubonic Plague[ii].
The Root of the Problem
As the talent pool continues to shrink, companies will begin losing employees ranging from executives to craft laborers. Even if companies downsize, or outsource labor, there will still be spots to fill. A drought is a drought; no matter how companies respond, the number of available employees will continue to diminish.
On the bright side, the talent drought couldn’t have come at a better time in history. There are fewer people entering into the workforce, but fewer people are needed. A recent report by McKinsey & Company suggests that 45% of job functions today could be completely automated using technology and robotics[iii]. Conveniently, 30% of workers might be retiring, but up to 45% might not be needed.
When push comes to shove, companies might not need to fill spots left by retirees. Automating jobs is much more efficient than managing employees. As time goes on, companies won’t need more employees, they will need the right employees.
We’re beginning to see signs of this today. Companies now recognize that technical skills are not as valuable as leadership skills and soft skills[iv]. Compared to soft skills, technical skills can be more easily trained or automated[v].
Looking to Education
As discussed in previous articles (here and here), the U.S. education systems is not up to par. Too many students are unhappy with their education and unable to find meaningful careers. At the same time, U.S. companies are finding that new hires are unprepared for work. Young employees lack leadership skills and the ability to think criticallyv. Over the course of four years, 45% of college students do not improve their reasoning and critical thinking abilities[vi].
The modern education system trains students to memorize technical information so it can be regurgitated on an exam, but there are very few exams in the working world. As companies begin to rely on technology, demands will change.
With the aid of technology, the impact of the “talent drought” will be minimal, and if we are wise, we won’t have to compete with robots for jobs. As people, we have one advantage over technology: we have the ability to reason. Reasoning leads to creativity and empathy; things that a robot cannot do. These skills will become more and more crucial in a professional setting.
The professional of the future has to be a problem solver who is able to understand unique situations at a very high level. He or she must be a leader who possesses key traits such as:
- Logical reasoning abilities
- Personal stability
- Interpersonal skills
These traits can’t be learned from a textbook or studied in a classroom. These traits should be nurtured and developed. Traditionally, someone one could only learn these things through many years of life experience, but there is another way.
As we mentioned in other posts, the Leadership Society of Arizona has created a leadership development program that helps students learn faster. Our model teaches students how to apply logic and common sense to solve everyday problems. Instead of telling students that integrity is important, we give a logical reason of why. This education drastically reduces personal stress and empowers students to be better people. The secret is to teach kids how to learn wherever they go.
The talent pool is shrinking and job functions are being replaced by technology. Companies are placing more value on leadership skills than technical training. The professional of the future must know how to think critically and solve unique problems. Modern education must adapt to the needs of society by teaching students soft skills instead of forcing them to memorize information. The Leadership Society of Arizona curriculum provides students with a framework that helps them use logic to solve everyday problems and learn faster. If we can prepare a generation of rational, stable-minded employees, there is no problem too great to handle.
Leadership isn’t a job title, it’s a lifestyle.
[i] U.S. Census 2010. Retrieved from: http://www.censusscope.org/us/chart_age.html
[ii] The Economist 2016. Retrieved from: http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21702477-can-debt-fuelled-model-growth-cope-ageing-populations-vanishing
[iv] Burnsed, B. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2011/05/11/specialized-majors-high-risk-high-reward.
[v] Society of Human Resource Management (2015). Retrieved from: Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/Research/SurveyFindings/Documents/SHRM-Hiring-Graduates-2015.pdf
[vi] Rimer, S. (2011). Retrieved from http://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/national/article24608056.html