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The War for Talent

The Toronto Board of Trade have several speaker series, and one of them is a Technology Innovators series. I attended a session this week and the presenters were Phil Sorgen Canadian President of Microsoft, and Bill Morris Canadian Managing Director of Accenture.

Both of these gentlemen had meaty content to bring to the table and both were in agreement that the number one issue that will be facing organizations into the future is the war for talent. Obviously the staffing industry sits up and listens when comments like this are made ... and for me these kind of statements support my view that our industry has never been better positioned for success. This is a great time to be in the staffing industry, and it is our responsibility to step up and provide meaningful answers to help Canadian businesses find the resources they need.

Almost twenty years ago Charles Handy (a British author and consultant) wrote a book "The Age of Unreason" about how he saw organizations evolving in the 21st century. He saw the impending demographic issues that would cause skills shortages and even labour shortages. One of his answers was an organization called the Shamrock Organization ... with 3 "leaves" or parts to it.

First the core of the business would be manned by very skilled employees. These people would be treated like gold, because they were the lifeblood of the organization and would be in big demand in a world where resources were scarce.

The second part of the organization would involve outsourcing all non-core functions. Certainly the growth in outsourcing and offshore outsourcing has been significant in this first part of the 21st century.

The third part of the shamrock organization is staff augmentation, the use of temporary or contract labour to meet project needs, peak demands or any of a myriad of reasons that companies use staff augmentation.

I have long contended that Handy's ideas make a ton of sense. The flexibility in this type of organization allows a company to truly focus its efforts on its core business. The economies of scale offered by outsourcers means that valuable resource skills can be maximized across a number of client organizations rather than under utilizing those skilled people as employees of one company.

On the topic of outsourcing Phil Sorgen suggested that companies would not be offshoring to India because of price, but rather because the resources to get the job done will not be available here in North America. Bill Morris told us that Accenture receive 100,000 applications from computer grads in India for their open positions, and that 2/3 of the worlds computer science students will graduate in Asia.

The technology industry and the staffing industry are truly looking at a great opportunity. The challenge to all of us in this space will be to step up with creative and innovative ways to bring value to our clients. Maybe with such promise, even those companies who always seem to find a way to devalue our industry by giving our valuable services away at ridiculous prices, will see the light!

To Bill Morris and Phil Sorgen ... thanks for your insights! I enjoyed your talk and if you need a staffing partner ...