This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

July 23, 2003

Fighting the Talent Drain

As we move through the decade, competition for top talent will become global. Over the past few years, we have become increasingly sensitized to the movement of jobs to countries with workforce populations that will tolerate lower wages. Many of the jobs to be filled---in developed countries and in developing countries---will require higher levels of education, experience, and expertise. Workers with those qualities are located around the world and often feel very comfortable in moving abroad to fulfill their job responsibilities.

When these highly talented people move across international lines, their home country loses a resource that could help attract and build needed economic strength. Employers go where they can find people who can get the job done, labor laws that are supportive, and other community factors that make the location desirable. Qualified workers are a key factor in the process of deciding where to locate a business. Businesses provide more jobs, pay taxes, and help stabilize the economy. If those workers have gone, the location is less attractive.

National governments will engage in public relations campaigns to attract and hold citizen-workers in their countries to counteract the risk of a talent drain. These efforts will be directed toward college and university students as well as experienced professionals and specialists who are already a significant national asset. Some states and cities will fund similar promotions; some already have, notably Iowa and Omaha with their campaigns to attract IT workers.

Convincing the next generation of workers to stay, with a sense of nationalism, will be difficult. Young people (in their twenties and early thirties) are already accustomed to a freedom of international travel. Several of our children have already traveled in over two dozen countries--- at their expense---and many Europeans have even broader experiences. With their internet communication, the next generation has already transcended political boundaries---mere lines drawn on a map. They will probably ignore nationalism, placing a priority on their own interests.

The new mobility will challenge states, countries, and employers to find ways to encourage those valuable young, energetic workers to choose local career opportunities.

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