As we near the third decade of the 21st century, business leaders face an unprecedented pace of change. The key to handling rapidly-shifting business conditions is a knowledgeable, empowered workforce. Businesses have always thrived on their people.
They are the difference between a reactive company that perilously watches changes unfold, and a proactive one that steers them.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has reached the point where it can democratize knowledge, unlocking it and making it available across the company in new and innovative ways.
IBM Watson services enables companies to do more with the talent they have by digesting implicit business knowledge and sharing it among employees in meaningful ways.
The problem for the C-suite is that those people are becoming harder to find. Macroeconomic effects are eviscerating the existing workforce, while cultural and social ones are making it harder to find and retain new blood.
This POV describes this macroeconomic problem in depth, and then explores the ways AI can help businesses bridge the talent gap.
Watson does this by discovering expertise previously hidden away in the company and scaling it across the entire business, enabling everyone to learn from it.
It translates this knowledge into actionable insights and delivers them to employees at the time and place that they need it most. This boosts employee performance where it matters.
Companies are eager to scale expertise across the workforce to solve a pressing problem. There is a gap for technical skills in the workplace extending across a range of sectors, from healthcare through to engineering. It is hurting business across the globe
Companies are bridging this talent gap by using a time-tested social norm: They get senior people to teach younger people. More than half of employers are now investing in creating internal talent by developing existing employees to fill open positions. This has increased from one in five, showing the urgency with which industry is tackling the problem.
40% of global employers
are reporting talent shortages, which is the highest number since 2007.
Pew Research has pinpointed the problem: Baby boomers are retiring
Boomers (which Pew defines as aged 51-60) are retiring in ever-greater numbers. The research firm is seeing 10,000 men and women retiring each day.
This leaves huge gaps in the workforce. In the healthcare industry alone, more than two thirds of boomer nurses are considering retirement. Who will be there to fill the experience gap when workers like these, with their years of expert knowledge, are no longer available?
The problem here is that the next generation down – Gen X, aged 35-50 – isn't big enough to pick up the slack. There are fewer people in this age bracket to fill these jobs as they become available.
Millennials (aged 18-34) are as numerous as boomers, which should provide employers with some hope, but this group follows a different behavioral profile. Those at the younger end of the spectrum do not have the decades of experience that boomers have accrued over a lifetime of service.
Millennial workers are also more nomadic in their careers than their older counterparts, switching jobs more frequently.
Gallup notes that:
Job-hopping employees can make it difficult and expensive for employers to find and retain talent in this age group.
It will come as no surprise that this trend is hitting those companies relying on worker knowledge the hardest. Companies in professional services, finance and engineering are all facing similar issues.