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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Talent Mobility Good Practices - Collaboration at the Core of Driving Economic Growth

The Challenge

While the world economy continues to become more global, international labor mobility remains severely restricted for all but those with rare or high skills. Many people in developing countries would ...

While the world economy continues to become more global, international labor mobility remains severely restricted for all but those with rare or high skills. Many people in developing countries would like to emigrate legally to work abroad but they do not qualify for admission to destination countries. This is because policy-makers typically focus on the net national economic impact when considering reforms of their labor migration policies and they naturally respond to public opinion about that impact.

Talent Mobility Good Practices

Collaboration at the Core of Driving Economic Growth

Joint World Economic Forum / Mercer research

Talent is the fuel that drives the engine of the global economy. Talent mobility is an enabler for private companies, governments, academic institutions and NGOs to close skills gaps and remedy talent shortages by upskilling, retooling and/or relocating talent to effectively fulfill strategic imperatives and foster growth.

When done right, talent mobility practices can effectively boost labor supply, stimulate labor demand, or better equilibrate supply and demand through changes in the cost or quantity of labor – all of which lead to growth. Yet not enough is being done to harness its full promise; the result is a frustrating paradox. Many countries struggle with persistent, widespread unemployment and huge untapped labor pools, while many industry sectors face talent shortages and skills gaps that dampen economic growth.

Research shows that a broader view of talent mobility as briefly outlined above – which is beyond traditional international assignments – is necessary to address those talent challenges and grow businesses, industries and economies. The broader definition includes the physical movement of workers within or across organizations, industries or countries, and globally. It also includes the professional movement of workers across occupations or skill sets. Mobility may be temporary or permanent and may also involve moving people from unemployed to employed, moving jobs to people or allowing for virtual mobility.

Despite the challenges, a variety of scalable and practical solutions already exist in practice to address talent shortages and lead to job creation, and ultimately economic growth. The research includes good practices from around the world that demonstrate concrete actions that organizations – including companies, governments, academic institutions, and non-profit entities – have implemented to address talent challenges.

The good practices are varied, ranging from strategic workforce planning to shaping academic curricula to better meet an industry’s talent needs to training under-skilled workers for employment. Generally, they fall into the following four categories:

  • Basic employment training and employment subsidies to reduce unemployability
  • Retraining and upskilling the workforce and better career development to close skills gaps
  • Increasing the information available to individuals and employers, improving workforce planning within organizations and strengthening credentialing to fill information gaps
  • Easing migration, facilitating mobility within organizations and moving jobs to people to reduce constraints on mobility

 

At the core of these good talent mobility practices, however, is collaboration. Whether at the organizational level, within an industry or region, or across multiple stakeholders worldwide, collaboration enables stakeholders to grapple effectively with talent market challenges to significantly enhance growth. In fact, collective action may be the only way to significantly change labor market outcomes. Moreover, the broader the collaboration, the greater is its impact on global economic growth.

While its benefits are clear, collaboration itself is complex and difficult to implement. Convincing stakeholders to consider goals greater than their own immediate ones takes diplomacy and persuasion. Critical to success is the development of a “collaborative mindset” – prepared to think broadly, comfortable with complexity, and able to understand and find common ground with the goals of other stakeholders.

With the right mindset in place, successful collaboration on talent mobility practices also requires building strength and facility by:

  • Developing a clear, common understanding of the problem as well as a fact-based case for multiple stakeholder collaboration
  • Establishing aligned incentives for participation and action
  • Instituting strong governance that spells out who will lead the effort and what information is to be shared among participants
  • Obtaining the right workforce and performance data on which to base the practice and using measurement and modeling tools to estimate the business impact of talent mobility
  • Continuously assessing progress and results to ensure proof of concept

 

In Quebec, for example, efforts are focused on attracting foreign talent and, more importantly, integrating such foreign nationals successfully into the labor market. As a result, foreign students graduating from Quebec educational institutions are encouraged by the government to stay in the province through a simplified immigration program. The Quebec-France Agreement on Mutual Recognition of Professional Qualifications facilitates, among other things, integrating skilled workers wishing to practice their professional or trade in Quebec, thereby lessening the negative economic impact of the declining and ageing workforce and encouraging greater movement of skilled workers to the province.

One final point before closing. Although this research focuses on the actions that organizations can take to develop and implement talent mobility practices for economic growth, stakeholders must keep in mind the concerns and needs of its workforce. Any entity hoping to employ talent mobility to improve labor market outcomes must build the engagement of and commitment from those impacted. Regardless of how well other strategies and practices are deployed, the buy-in of talent is a prerequisite to bringing those currently unable to participate into the labor market and ensuring the movement of those who are participating to those locations and occupations where they are most needed.

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