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Mind the (Talent) Gap: How Learning Can Help You Win the War for Talent

The global workforce is in crisis. There are more people exiting the workforce than entering it, and as the older generations retire, they take a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience with them.

In a perfect business, when an employee resigns, or is poached by a competitor – don’t kid yourself, with the tools available to recruiters today, passive candidates are quickly turned into hot prospects – or retires, you have identified a successor who is ready, or close to ready to step up. In reality, even knowing we all need good succession plans, we don’t have them. So we look outside. Seems quicker and easier. Your recruiters, the ones with the tools I just mentioned, are finding them for you. In fact, 69% of executives stated they normally hire from the outside the fill vacated positions, according to the Workforce 2020study conducted by Oxford Economics and sponsored by SAP. And there’s one more big piece of the equation, the number of nonpayroll positions for consultants, intermittent employees, and contingent workers continue to grow at astonishing rates and we’re not doing enough to include them in our future plans.


To help employees, contingent or full-time, build the skills they need now and in the future, we need to establish and nurture a culture of learning. Which means we’ve got a lot of work to do. The Workforce 2020” study also found that fewer than half of employees (41%) believe their employers offer opportunities to expand their skill sets. And only roughly half of executives agree their company is capable of retaining, updating, and sharing institutional knowledge. Not surprising then that just 40% cite that formal programs, such as job rotation and shadowing, are available to enhance learning and give employees a shot at succession.

It’s time to flip our view of talent development and succession on its head

Talent development starts at the top. Once we as executives acknowledge that bridging the talent gap and increasing the skills we can draw from doesn’t just mean bringing in often unproven people from outside the organisation, we’ll be on the road to transforming how we approach the learning and development of the people we already have. And that means giving people easy access to learning resources, anywhere and anytime. Every employee – full-time, part-time, contingent, consultant. With access to expert, accessible, consumable learning tailored to the needs of the business and the needs of people to develop in their careers.

Social, collaborative, and convenient: MOOCs usher learning into a new era

In the next five years, every one of us will need to accommodate new ways of working, communicating, collaborating, and innovating. Blame whatever or whomever you want, but it’s real. We see it in the technologies we use in our private and professional lives. We see it in how we communicate with each other in our social networks. We demand it as consumers.

With a social platform for collaborative learning and development, we can all learn at our own pace and schedule. We can track our progress. We can gain access to knowledge outside the company, connected to experts and university curriculum with a massive open online class (MOOC) model that’s taken off since 2012. From the most-celebrated universities in the world – including Harvard and Oxford – to MOOC-based organisations, like the Khan Academy, expert content before only available to a small group of people is becoming available to anyone, and often for free.

We’re putting our development money where our mouth is by connecting content from Coursera, Udacity, and Open HPI to our learning management platform. And we’ve just launched our own, first-time MOOC on SuccessFactors.

I’m excited to see the impact over the next few years. People are looking for better, more relevant, more accessible ways to increase their skills, and companies are looking for tomorrow’s skills today. I like the direction we’re going in.

Learn more about our new vision for learning. Explore SuccessFactors solutions in our first free MOOC on openSAP. Register now.

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