Winning the Global Talent Showdown

How Businesses and Communities Can Partner to Rebuild the Jobs Pipeline

Edward Gordon (Author)

Publication date: 04/13/2009

Winning the Global Talent Showdown
How do we reinvent our global talent creation system to ensure future growth and prosperity?

Exposes the root causes of the coming talent crisis facing America, Asia, and Europe

Shows how we can prevent the crisis by reinventing the education-to-employment system

Includes dozens of examples of how this is already being done across America and around the world

In the next few years the world will be facing a huge talent shortage. Demographic trends in America, Europe, Russia, and Japan are reducing the pool of new workers. As the need for talent grows, China’s and India’s educational systems won’t be able to produce enough qualified graduates for themselves, let alone the rest of the world. But the heart of the problem is that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly outmoded. We’re not producing graduates with the kinds of technical, communications, and thinking skills needed in the 21st century.

In Winning the Global Talent Showdown, Ed Gordon surveys the sorry state of the world talent pipeline, with separate chapters on the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Each region faces its own challenges, yet the result is the same: a dramatic shortage of workers who can function in what Gordon calls our “cyber-mental” age.

But this is fundamentally a book about solutions. Gordon argues that we need to completely reinvent our talent-creation system—and some pioneering efforts are already underway. He describes dozens of “gateways to the future,” innovative partnerships in which local governments, schools, businesses, labor unions, parents, training organizations, community activists, and others are collaborating to develop completely new approaches to education. Based on personal experience, Gordon outlines how concerned citizens can establish these partnerships in their own communities. And he looks down the road to 2020, explaining how we can build on the best of these new ideas so that the jobs pipeline flows freely again.

• Exposes the root causes of the coming talent crisis facing America, Asia, and Europe

• Shows how we can prevent the crisis by reinventing the education-to-employment system

• Includes dozens of examples of how this is already being done across America and around the world

In the next few years the world will be facing a huge talent shortage. Demographic trends in America, Europe, Russia, and Japan are reducing the pool of new workers. As the need for talent grows, China’s and India’s educational systems won’t be able to produce enough qualified graduates for themselves, let alone the rest of the world. But the heart of the problem is that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly outmoded. We’re not producing graduates with the kinds of technical, communications, and thinking skills needed in the 21st century.

In Winning the Global Talent Showdown, Ed Gordon surveys the sorry state of the world talent pipeline, with separate chapters on the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Each region faces its own challenges, yet the result is the same: a dramatic shortage of workers who can function in what Gordon calls our “cyber-mental” age.

But this is fundamentally a book about solutions. Gordon argues that we need to completely reinvent our talent-creation system—and some pioneering efforts are already underway. He describes dozens of “gateways to the future,” innovative partnerships in which local governments, schools, businesses, labor unions, parents, training organizations, community activists, and others are collaborating to develop completely new approaches to education. Based on personal experience, Gordon outlines how concerned citizens can establish these partnerships in their own communities. And he looks down the road to 2020, explaining how we can build on the best of these new ideas so that the jobs pipeline flows freely again.

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Overview

How do we reinvent our global talent creation system to ensure future growth and prosperity?

Exposes the root causes of the coming talent crisis facing America, Asia, and Europe

Shows how we can prevent the crisis by reinventing the education-to-employment system

Includes dozens of examples of how this is already being done across America and around the world

In the next few years the world will be facing a huge talent shortage. Demographic trends in America, Europe, Russia, and Japan are reducing the pool of new workers. As the need for talent grows, China’s and India’s educational systems won’t be able to produce enough qualified graduates for themselves, let alone the rest of the world. But the heart of the problem is that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly outmoded. We’re not producing graduates with the kinds of technical, communications, and thinking skills needed in the 21st century.

In Winning the Global Talent Showdown, Ed Gordon surveys the sorry state of the world talent pipeline, with separate chapters on the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Each region faces its own challenges, yet the result is the same: a dramatic shortage of workers who can function in what Gordon calls our “cyber-mental” age.

But this is fundamentally a book about solutions. Gordon argues that we need to completely reinvent our talent-creation system—and some pioneering efforts are already underway. He describes dozens of “gateways to the future,” innovative partnerships in which local governments, schools, businesses, labor unions, parents, training organizations, community activists, and others are collaborating to develop completely new approaches to education. Based on personal experience, Gordon outlines how concerned citizens can establish these partnerships in their own communities. And he looks down the road to 2020, explaining how we can build on the best of these new ideas so that the jobs pipeline flows freely again.

• Exposes the root causes of the coming talent crisis facing America, Asia, and Europe

• Shows how we can prevent the crisis by reinventing the education-to-employment system

• Includes dozens of examples of how this is already being done across America and around the world

In the next few years the world will be facing a huge talent shortage. Demographic trends in America, Europe, Russia, and Japan are reducing the pool of new workers. As the need for talent grows, China’s and India’s educational systems won’t be able to produce enough qualified graduates for themselves, let alone the rest of the world. But the heart of the problem is that the education-to-employment system worldwide is badly outmoded. We’re not producing graduates with the kinds of technical, communications, and thinking skills needed in the 21st century.

In Winning the Global Talent Showdown, Ed Gordon surveys the sorry state of the world talent pipeline, with separate chapters on the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Each region faces its own challenges, yet the result is the same: a dramatic shortage of workers who can function in what Gordon calls our “cyber-mental” age.

But this is fundamentally a book about solutions. Gordon argues that we need to completely reinvent our talent-creation system—and some pioneering efforts are already underway. He describes dozens of “gateways to the future,” innovative partnerships in which local governments, schools, businesses, labor unions, parents, training organizations, community activists, and others are collaborating to develop completely new approaches to education. Based on personal experience, Gordon outlines how concerned citizens can establish these partnerships in their own communities. And he looks down the road to 2020, explaining how we can build on the best of these new ideas so that the jobs pipeline flows freely again.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - Edward Gordon

Edward Gordon is president of Imperial Consulting Corporation. Imperial’s clients include Microsoft; Walgreens; Marriott; the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, and Energy; the U.S. and local Chambers of Commerce; the National Association of Workforce Development Professionals; and many others. He is the author or coauthor of over fifteen books, including The 2010 Meltdown and Skill Wars.

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Table of Contents



Preface

Introduction: What’s Causing the Global Talent Crunch?

Part One: Making Sense of the Talent Shortage Around the World

Chapter 1:
The Americas
Chapter 2: Asia
Chapter 3: Europe and Russia

Part Two: Harnessing the Power of Public-Private Partnerships

Chapter 4: Expanding the Talent Pool
Chapter 5: Fixing the Education-to-Employment System
Chapter 6: Producing New Talent

Notes
Resources
Acknowledgments
Index
About the Author

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Excerpt

WINNING THE

vii

PREFACE

Around the world, jobs and labor markets are undergoing a radical transformation. Between 2010 and 2020, much of the world will experience a watershed era of rapid technological, economic, social, and cultural change. This new era will offer more people the promise of high-skill/high-wage careers that also will support broader global economic development—if we can find better ways to create the talent needed to fill these jobs.

Between 2010 and 2020, nations all over the globe will experience profound changes in employment because of scientific and technological advances. Winning the Global Talent Showdown shows how the great majority of businesses around the world are underperforming precisely because their most significant assets—their employees’ knowledge and talent—are unwittingly being suppressed or underdeveloped. It then reviews specific means that businesses and communities can use to unleash the potential of this untapped talent.

After exhausting all the short-term fixes, business and community leaders are just beginning to face the reality that this is not their parents’ workforce anymore. How can business profitably participate? Where will the new career systems first appear? Who will take the risk to introduce them? When will these new job support systems be adopted by a community, state, or nation? How much will taxpayers, businesses, unions, and governments be willing to invest in more effective education-to-employment systems? These are some of the basic questions we will explore in what follows.

What you are about to read in Winning the Global Talent Showdown are stories from the firing line, where individuals and groupsviii are waging a successful battle to replace the broken education-to-employment system. The introduction outlines the three major economic and cultural forces that have combined to produce the forthcoming talent showdown: a globalized economy, the combined demographic pressure of massive boomer retirements and falling birthrates, and a breakdown in the global education-to-employment system that has not kept pace with twenty-first-century skill needs and employment aspirations. The clash of these forces has triggered a seemingly contradictory situation in which significant numbers of workers are seeking employment (or even dropping out of the job market) while many employers have trouble filling open positions.

Part 1, “Making Sense of the Talent Shortage Around the World” will show how an imminent global talent shortage now threatens much of the industrialized world. In chapters 1 through 3, we will take a quick trip around the world to better understand the interlocking nature of these problems. Business, community, and government leaders need to understand that the talent shortage is not local, but global. Demographics, the globalized economy, and broken education-to-employment systems are problems around the world. There is no hidden pool of talent out there somewhere.

Because the competition for all kinds of talent is truly worldwide, leaders have to solve the global talent problem in their own countries. We cannot outsource our way out of this shortage. Those days are over. Countries like India that in the past have provided resources for outsourcing are now experiencing their own talent shortages. Nor will immigration solve the problem, because countries like China, once sources of skilled talent, are now luring their expatriate workers home to take advantage of higher wages and a growing economy.

On our world tour we will focus on twenty-five countries that need to play in the new game of global talent successfully if they are to maintain their economic momentum through the next decade. In chapter 1 we will look at the Western Hemisphere, where North,ix South, and Central America are experiencing a growing mismatch between popular cultural expectations for employment and the onrushing jobs revolution that underpins today’s tech-based economies. From the heartland of the United States, across Canada, to the cities of Brazil, the future engines of economic growth will be powered by rising numbers of talented cyber-mental workers, but businesses are increasingly having trouble finding them.

Chapter 2 follows the impact of 2 billion low-cost, and mainly low-skill, Indian and Chinese workers flooding the world markets with cheap goods. As millions of jobs are outsourced to Asia, low-skill U.S. and European workers collect unemployment. But recent quality and technology demands reveal that the talent pools of these third-world economies are running dry as they play catch-up with Japan, Korea, and Singapore, their better-educated, higher product-quality neighbors. Many factories in China and India are now installing modern technology that requires maintenance by talented workers with advanced technical and engineering skills. Other high-tech sectors in these economies are also growing.

We will see why raw population numbers and recent explosive economic growth in China and India are misleading indicators of high-tech employability. National pools of available skilled technical talent are surprisingly shallow. Both India and China allegedly graduate about 400,000 engineers each year. Yet according to India’s National Association of Software and Service Companies (2005), only about 25 percent are considered suitable for employment. A 2005 McKinsey & Company report found the situation to be similar in China, where only 10 percent of each year’s engineering-school graduates meet world-class multinational employment standards.1 The challenge of the technology paradox for much of Asia is to develop the range of talent needed for modern knowledge-intensive economies from their current weak education critical mass.

Chapter 3 explores how Europe, the United Kingdom, and Russia are now struggling to remain competitive in areas of sophisticatedx technology and design while low-wage countries make cheaper, more basic products. We will examine population and workforce shrinkages that are driving up wages across Europe, as well as how immigration has strained Germany’s educational system to the breaking point. The key issue for the European Union (EU) will be to find a combination of policies that address the root issues of a growing talent meltdown. We will look at both the EU nations that have prospered—like Ireland—and those that have not. In Scandinavia the “Nordic Model” is said to deliver strong growth and low unemployment. However, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland all have trouble attracting and keeping talented workers. Unlike the rest of Europe, Eastern Europe has a burgeoning population and some of the most motivated and best-educated workers, but low wages and open borders are causing a brain drain and a talent shortage. Finally, we will consider Russia, where plummeting population, a collapsed education system, and a health crisis have produced a rapidly shrinking workforce.

Part 2, “Harnessing the Power of Public-Private Partnerships,” focuses on solutions. The major economic shift from basic-skill jobs to knowledge-based jobs requiring higher thinking skills means that knowledge and talent creation have to become every business’s business. In this section you will find inspiration and answers from programs around the world that are finding and creating talent.

Chapter 4 offers ways to take advantage of talent that might otherwise be underrepresented or wasted—retiring boomers, women with young children, people with disabilities, former prisoners, and others. For example, in the United Kingdom employers have begun special programs to target at-risk groups currently seen as unemployable. Another U.K. effort, “Target Chances,” helps talented graduates with their applications to top employers. “Pure Potential” also helps disadvantaged inner-city youth tap financial aid to study at Britain’s leading universities.2 Chapter 4 also looks at the generationalxi differences affecting the workforce and examines ways to address the work attitudes and career aspirations of Generation X and Generation Y.

Chapter 5 provides compelling case studies of secondary education career initiatives now under way around the world. It focuses on career academies that are preparing students for twenty-first-century careers by combining a strong background in science, technology, and mathematics with components of a liberal arts education. We will see how businesses are providing apprenticeships and other on-the-job experience to expand students’ future career opportunities, as employers are no longer waiting passively for additional high-quality talent to emerge. Many businesses are using innovative programs to encourage student interest in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Finally, chapter 6 explores practical ways of creating momentum for local business and community renewal. Businesses have concluded that combining their expertise with the broader influence of local community-based organizations (CBOs) or nongovernment organizations (NGOs) are the best way of addressing the talent sustainability challenge across the United States and around the world. From California to North Carolina to Singapore, local business and community leaders are rebuilding workforce pipelines that retain and attract businesses to their communities. Many of these case studies offer a rich variety of business and broader workforce solutions that can be adapted to local cultures and economies anywhere in the world.

Winning the Global Talent Showdown draws on interviews with diverse experts on the future of jobs and the world economy to probe into the implications of this global shift. These thought leaders represent business, labor, education, and government at local, national, and international levels. They include professionals, managers, and technical or scientific experts drawn from many fields.

But experts are not the only ones who are concerned about the talent pipeline. These leaders are joined by parents and students,xii who increasingly want to become better informed about the radically changing job and career environment. I have also spoken with community activists engaged in the reinvention of their local labor-market economy. They have shared with me a growing sense of renewal and hope in the values of democratic self-governance and active citizenship as they mobilize their communities to change cultural perspectives and forge new talent pathways to prosperity in the twenty-first century.

My book The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Jobs Crisis was published in 2005. Since then I have networked with leaders from the United States, Canada, Latin America, Europe, and Asia to discuss the book’s central theme—the implications of imminent baby-boomer retirements and the smaller, less well-prepared cadre now entering the workforce. I have seen a near-universal consensus forming that the current “education-to-employment system” is badly broken. This is the talent-building process we have all experienced in which K-12 education, career education, and the world of work are sharply compartmentalized, with little communication between those engaged in each sector. There are increasing shortages of talented people inside service businesses, the professions, manufacturing, and other industrial sectors. Different economic factors (for example, oil, housing, inflation, and immigration) may periodically minimize these trends, but over the next decade they will not reverse this global talent showdown. During the past several years, I personally have observed a true transformation of individual cultural attitudes concerning the risk of a worldwide talent crisis.

We are slowly beginning to witness an increase in employee training and development inside businesses. A substantive refocus of community efforts has begun to raise the quality and to diversify education content so that many more students will meet the talent demands of a global technology-based economy.

Economic change is a messy process, and in practice, countries and businesses are still struggling to make it work in this transitionalxiii talent era. We all know how this story is going to end. Sometime in the future, the world’s talent pool will begin catching up to the economic realities of the twenty-first century. But history teaches us that nations are wiser to defuse such anxieties with transformational change of “the system” rather than waiting for a “big bang” collapse. Winning the Global Talent Showdown will show you how to tackle the talent shortage now.

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Endorsements



"Winning the Global Talent Showdown goes way beyond a mere brace of suggestions. Gordon's insightful analysis of the continuing and projected workforce skill deficits and complimented by many practical and common-sense solutions."

—Kevin Hollenbeck, Assistant Executive Director and Senior Economist, Upjohn Institute for Employment Research


“This book is insightful, data rich, and thought provoking. It should be the handbook for the US Department of Labor and regional community based organization.”

—Jim McShane, Executive Director, Crossroads Workforce Investment Board

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