The Battle For Talented Workers

Larry Price
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Wednesday - February 03, 2010
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As the “war on terror” rages on in the political arena, the “war for talent’” has become a cliche in management circles.

Just within the last few years, the fast-changing technology in today’s economy has brought fierce competition among organizations locally, nationally and globally. As the importance of human capital becomes more and more recognized by organizations, companies are no longer only competing with each other’s products and services, they also are fighting to attract talent.

Successful companies are those that can recognize the importance of people and place effort in selecting the best and the brightest employees.

Plus, these companies understand the importance of keeping their employees happy, and put much effort in employee retention. Selecting the best and the brightest is just the beginning for organizations. Keeping the best and the brightest is an ongoing battle - and not just for organizations.


The “war for talent” is a global war and involves innovative recruiting methods to attract employees, leaders in recruiting and especially the art of recruiting women.

This is according to a yearlong study conducted by McKinsey & Company involving 77 companies and 6,000 managers and executives. Its selected findings provided strong evidence that the most important corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent: smart, sophisticated business people who are up to date in all matters - technological and economical - necessary for success.

But even as the demand for talent goes up, the supply of it will go down.

The report is clear about what will result from these trends. The search for the best and the brightest will become a long, costly battle - a war with no end in sight.

Not only will companies have to devise more-imaginative hiring practices, they also will have to work harder to keep their best people. The thinking is that, in the new economy, competition is international, investment is widely available, ideas are developed quickly and cheaply, and employees are willing to change jobs often. In that kind of environment, all that matters is talent. Talent wins.

Some of our leaders in government may disagree, but the evidence is there. The officials in charge of educating our students in K-12 know that the challenge to keep abreast of the competition for local jobs is intense. Look around and see how many vacancies are filled with someone from afar. The reason is because talent has become more important than capital, strategy, or research and development. Think about the sources of competitive advantage that companies have. Capital is accessible today for good ideas and good projects. Strategies are transparent: Even if you have one, others can simply copy it. And fast-paced technology is getting faster all the time.

At the end of the day, most executives bet on people, not strategies. So why is that a good idea? Because the world is changing so quickly and, in the middle of the Pacific, our officials can’t see around corners. One of the most encouraging parts of the governor’s final State of the State message was her reference to a Volunteer Internship Program (VIP). It’s a program run by the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations that could be the salvation of many unemployed workers. This program will allow unemployment insurance claimants to gain work-force training by interning at local businesses for up to 32 hours a week for eight weeks, while still receiving unemployment benefits. It’s part of the state’s economic recovery initiatives and is geared toward getting Hawaii’s unemployed greater job skills and back to work quicker.

To sign up and register, or for more information including answers to frequently asked questions, visit www.

This is equivalent to a tryout camp for potential talent, and the end result might mean, if you show some talent and effort, getting hired by the business with which you interned.

It’s worth investigating if you are looking for a job. It’s a lot better then sitting around wringing your hands.

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