This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

October 8, 2014

Alarming Global Workforce Crisis Ahead

"Every economy's ability to compete depends on a steady supply of human capital and talent. When that supply is inadequate, imbalances result, creating serious threats not only to the economy but also to social and political stability and future development. This impact, moreover, extends beyond borders."

We couldn't have said it better than this quotation from The Boston Consulting Group* (BCG) in their recent study of worldwide labor market trends. These shifts are not just in the United States or Europe, rather they are everywhere. And as seismic shifts in the labor market, they will have far-reaching consequences---to the point of destabilization of nation states. BCG estimates that USD $10 Trillion is at risk.

Having examined workforce supply-and-demand dynamics in 25 major economies through 2030, it is difficult to dispute BCG's findings. Collectively, the countries studied make up "more than 2 billion economically active people, or around 65 percent of the world's population---and more than 80 percent of total world GDP".

Their report highlights the impending labor shortages and surpluses and their implications for future growth. As we have said so often, that history is repeating itself. The difference is that this time the shortages are not just confined to the US, they are global in scope.

In fact, the labor supply is dwindling in Germany, Poland, Russia, and Japan---and will continue to shrink until 2020. In Brazil, shortages are expected to hit 8.5 Million by 2020. At the same time, China, the US, South Africa, Canada, and Italy will all have surpluses of people. For some countries, notably Canada and China, those surpluses will turn to deficits by 2030.

Besides demographics several other factors will affect labor supply including not only critical birth rates, but also labor force participation rates, retirement ages, immigration policies, yearly working hours, and worker productivity---and of course, worker skill levels.

Expect to see lots of relocations of companies as organizations locate to find workers. The major challenge will be finding not only warm bodies, but "skilled" workers. Companies will seek people who have the abilities and qualifications to not just hold the positions, but engage and excel. When you add the layer of the Millennials and Generation Z with their unique values and attitudes, you have a recipe for huge headaches for employers large and small.

* The Boston Consulting Group is one of the foremost consulting firms in the world.

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