L&D and the Talent Shortage

By June 30, 2020January 15th, 2021LTEN Focus On Training


L&D and the Talent Shortage

INSIGHTS – Josh Bersin

We need to shift thinking from attracting candidates to creating candidates.

We’re running out of workers. For the coming decade, the talent shortage is going to be one of the most important topics in business.

Manpower’s latest study shows that 69% of employers are now struggling to fill positions. The result is a tremendous focus on reskilling, internal mobility and new models of work.

We Can’t Hire Ourselves Out of Skills Gaps

In these current conditions, we need to shift thinking from attracting candidates to creating candidates. In other words:

  • We have to hire people with the potential to grow and train them.
  • We must create apprenticeships and internships to engage and train young people.
  • We have to provide opportunities to move to different roles on new skills.
  • We must expand alternative working options and better train and manage gig workers.

Obviously, learning and development (L&D) organizations must play a huge role in this shift.

What Can L&D Do?

I believe L&D, in partnership with HR and recruiting, is well-positioned to take a leading role in mitigating the talent shortage problem. Let me point out some ideas:

  • Reassess your company’s talent and mobility strategy. Many companies move people from job to job, country to country, routinely. Such practices increase leadership diversity, give employees a chance to learn new skills and business areas, and develop an internal marketplace.
  • Look for opportunities to empower and reengage older workers. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s are ready and willing to take on new roles, undertake reskilling and extend their careers for your company.
  • Reach into the education system and nontraditional sources for talent.  Microsoft actively recruits and trains college students. Unilever assesses candidates without considering educational history. Many retailers assess people based on personality and ambition.
  • Build a series of internal capability academies so that employees have opportunity to build deep and broad skills. Such initiatives will increase engagement and productivity. My research shows that it can be six times less expensive to reskill current employees than to hire externally.
  • Build power skills, not just technical skills. Developing capabilities for agility and adaptability, time management, teamwork, prioritization and innovation is critically important for business success.
  • Put together a team to focus on the employee experience to create meaningful and relevant learning experiences.
  • Create learning paths for alternative workers. Today almost 88% of companies do not even know who their contingent workers are, let alone invest in training them.

I believe the talent shortages ahead offer us an opportunity to rethink our learning and career development strategies. Meanwhile, start thinking about your workforce as one of your scarcest resources. Doing so will guide you in planning short- and long-term strategies.


Josh Bersin is an independent industry analyst and founder of Bersin™ by Deloitte. Contact him at info@bersinpartners.com.



About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network (www.L-TEN.org) is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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