How Collaboration Boosts Talent’s Global Mobility

Here is an excerpt from an article written by Patricia A. Milligan and Haig R. Nalbantian for Talent Management magazine. To check out all the resources and sign up for a free subscription to the TM and/or Chief Learning Officer magazines published by MedfiaTec, please click here.


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Effective talent mobility is a strategic necessity in global business. Collaboration between and among the public and private sectors is the key to managing it.

Talent mobility figures prominently in any contemporary discussion on global economic and social trends. Indeed, greater talent mobility can help address talent shortages and close skills gaps. Its impact can be seen in a growing number of activities across the economic spectrum, touching individuals, organizations, even entire countries and regions. Many of these changes are unprecedented. All have the potential to fuel economic performance while enhancing workers’ lives.

In today’s global context, talent mobility is nothing less than the physical movement of workers within or across organizations, industries or countries, or 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.

Consulting company Mercer and the World Economic Forum (WEF) collaborated on a report early this year, “Talent Mobility Good Practices: Collaboration at the Core of Driving Economic Growth.” Questionnaires were sent to practitioners and experts in 45 countries, capturing more than 200 practices in multiple dimensions of talent mobility, supplemented with interviews and research to gain clarity.

Collaboration for Job Creation

Mercer and WEF research revealed that collaboration in talent mobility among stakeholders on all sides of the employment equation is most effective in addressing labor market failures and job creation.

Yet the research also showed that most private organizations’ mobility efforts remain anchored to narrow concerns around expatriate assignments and leadership development. At the same time, public sector actions often reflect parochial interests rather than a spirit of collaboration in the service of a greater good. As evidence of the gaps between talent mobility aspirations and actual practices, the report found that:

o   Three-quarters of the organizations surveyed classified their talent mobility practice as traditional leadership development programs.
o   Mobility practices target executives, managers and professional/technical employees. More than 40 percent of the organizations surveyed move 5 percent or fewer of their employees each year, and 65 percent move 10 percent or fewer.
o   Fewer than half of the organizations surveyed are moving people across jobs and occupations.
o   Fewer than half of companies surveyed said they selected international assignees well; 62 percent said poor candidate selection was the second most important cause of assignment failure.
o   The European Commission reports that six European Union (EU) member states failed to implement an EU scheme that would make it easier for highly skilled people to come to the EU for work.
o   The number of employment-based, permanent-residence visas issued in the United States has not changed since 1996, resulting in a wait of more than a decade for these visas.

The result is often a continuing, frustrating paradox. Many countries struggle with vast unemployment, underemployment and untapped labor pools beyond what can be attributed to the global economic slump. Yet many industries struggle with talent shortages and skills gaps that are dampening economic growth. Talent mobility aspirations are outpacing what is being done about this.
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To read the complete article and report, please click here.
Patricia A. Milligan is a senior partner and president of consulting company Mercer’s human capital business. Haig R. Nalbantian is a senior partner and director of Mercer’s global research and commercialization function. They can be reached at their firm.
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