Sep 7, 2007

Interesting news

From the Egon Zehnder Executive News Service

Leadership: no panacea for growing talent shortage in Asia

According to a recent survey of 600 chief executives of multinational companies with businesses across Asia, a shortage of qualified personnel ranked as the number one concern in China, the second-biggest in Japan and fourth-biggest in India, writes The Economist. The report found that problems were the same across almost every industry and sector, with the result that many companies will be forced to scale back ambitious Asian growth-plans. Analysts see the underlying cause as a failure of national education systems to keep pace with economic developments and match teaching to the skills needed by businesses.

A prominent example of the skills shortage is the vibrant IT industry, where a shortfall of 500,000 professionals is estimated by 2010 in India alone. And China will need to boost its current stock of 3,000 to 5,000 top managers to 75,000 business leaders in the next ten years, according to predictions by the McKinsey Global Institute. The study’s authors found that today less than “10% of Chinese job candidates, on average, were suitable for work in a foreign company.”

With such intense competition for talent, companies are being forced to look at how best they can retain qualified staff. Experts agree there is no ready panacea and multiple solutions are called for, measures include conventional carrots such as delayed bonus payments along with offers of career planning, “personal-development road maps” and mentoring. But companies have also been quick to exploit other culture-specific approaches. Many Asians are attracted by the idea of being part of a prestigious brand. In some parts of Asia employers prefer to recruit women, recognising that because they are often valued less by society, they work harder and show greater loyalty. Another measure is the adoption of a “boomerangers” policy, designed to encourage the return of employees who have already left, concludes the author.

Full story. “Capturing talent - Asia's skills shortage” in The Economist (18 August 2007).