Business ecosystems: developing employable talent to meet business needs

Business ecosystems: developing employable talent to meet business needs

The development (or acquisition) of many of the ‘soft skills’ needed in today’s ideas-led economy requires a highly-developed ecosystem of universities and innovative institutions, but imagine what could be achieved if those institutions were to work together for a common purpose?

With the uncomfortable juxta-position of worldwide skills shortages and global competition at an all-time high, the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTI) — a new research-based report that ranks world-leading economies according to their ability to retain and develop talent — has uncovered some of the challenges felt by economies around the globe.

Worldwide employability challenge  

Whilst the favourable birth rates and population sizes of such countries as China, India and Indonesia mean that employee shortage is unlikely to be a problem in these nations, the GTCI study shows that the lower skills levels of their people could result in a severe employability challenge. Highlighting the problem, we see that in 2012, large employers in India had an average of 36 vacant full-time entry-level jobs, with 53% of employers citing a ‘lack of skills’ at the root of the problem.

So how do countries develop the talent that’s needed to compete with global competition in a financially sustainable manner, with both speed and scale?

The business ecosystem

A shortage of suitable talent can threaten innovation and performance in any organisation. In response to this pressing issue, the GTCI report highlights the fact that companies must look beyond internal capabilities to leverage the external partners at their disposal. This approach to confronting and co-solving challenges is known as the business ecosystem — and could present a viable solution to the global talent shortage. 

The idea behind the business ecosystem is that an interdependent economic community (consisting of cross-industrial players, governments and universities) co-evolves to create and deliver value. Whilst this has traditionally centred on new products (such as third-party mobile app developers responding to Apple’s creation of the iPhone), the concept can be adapted to help companies design and implement scalable — and cost-effective — talent initiatives.

 The GTCI report brings the concept to life by showcasing the glaring disparity between youth and employers (where, according to a McKinsey survey, fewer than half believe new graduates are adequately prepared for entry-level positions) and education providers (72% of which believe new graduates are business-ready). The GTCI suggests that the only employers who are likely to acquire the right talent are those who reach out to education providers and the younger generations.

 A collaborative effort

Adecco Group explored this same concept in 2012 with ‘Unlocking Britain's Potential a campaign designed to encourage business leaders, MPs, and educational bodies to work together to address the youth unemployment crisis, outline what actions UK business might take to unlock the potential of its workforce, and help those on the fringes of society to enter the world of work. The findings of the GTCI report largely echo those of UBP — encouraging all parties to combine their experience and expertise, instead of working in isolation.

If we’re to solve the global employability challenge affecting so many nations, organisations and job seekers, action needs to be taken at an early stage. The younger generation needs a greater understanding of what’s expected from them, what it takes to succeed in the world of work, and what opportunities are out there. One possible approach is for business leaders to help to design the curriculum, and for education providers to introduce hands-on career training to their students.

 Under the business ecosystem concept, forward-thinking employers would look to build strong relationships with schools, colleges and universities and together, create effective talent development solutions. Employers would benefit greatly as graduates would be more likely to apply for roles with their organisation, and educational partners would enhance their reputation by producing more employable graduates.

Download the report

Download the full GTCI report now to see how the business ecosystem is working in Asia, and to read about the other talent acquisition strategies being deployed around the globe.