3 Theories that May Explain the Persistent Talent Gap

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talent gap

Even in the face of a slowly recovering global economy and healthy unemployment numbers, employers are still struggling to find, hire, and retain quality talent.

Organizations may be seeking to better understand the causes of this so-called “talent gap”, as these insights may help them address this challenge and subsequently bring in the best people into their workforces.

While a number of potential explanations exist, there are three theories in particular which may be driving the persistent nature of this talent gap.

    1. Theory One: The Experience Divide 
      Some experts believe that one significant contributing factor to the talent gap is the experience divide between the long-term unemployed (those who have been out of work for more than 27 weeks), on one side, and on the other side, those people either currently employed or who have only been on the job market for a short while.

      Employers could be reluctant to consider the long-term unemployed, who currently comprise more than a third of the total unemployment population in the United States, a viable source of talent, since six months on the job market may result in lost skills and experience.

      For employers, the more attractive candidates may either currently employed elsewhere or, in some cases, just very recently out of work and perhaps not as active in their job search. Therefore, this pool of talent could be considered more passive candidates, which makes it more challenging for organizations to identify and recruit them.

    2. Theory Two: Employer Expectations
      Another theory that could explain the talent gap is that employers may demand a specific combination of skills and expertise that could simply be hard to find in today’s labor market.

      This could be a result of the lingering impacts of the global recession, which required that organizations become more nimble and efficient. To attain that efficiency, employers may have downsized their workforces and asked remaining employees to take on the responsibilities of eliminated positions—sometimes without increasing pay.

      This may have created a situation in which organizations are accustomed to employees with expansive skill sets, broad job descriptions, and a willingness to work for lower levels of compensation.

    3. Theory Three: Generational Issues
      Generational dynamics may also be impacting the difficulty employers are experiencing with talent acquisition.As Baby Boomers continue to exit the workforce, employers are anxiously looking for replacements for these skilled employees.

      Given the experience of its members, Generation X is the likeliest population to assume the vacancies left by the Boomers, but it simply doesn’t have the headcount to fill all the open positions.

      The next generation, the Millennials, is large enough in population to fill the numerous openings left by Boomer departures, but its members may lack the maturity or depth of experience employers are seeking.

Each of these individual theories probably does not adequately explain the talent gap that employers have reported experiencing over the last several years.

What’s more likely is that all of these factors have worked together to create a “perfect storm” of a talent deficit. To address this issue, a number of employers are relying on new recruitment strategies, like better leveraging of social media and more effective use of mobile technologies.

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