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Toward a worldwide skills shortage?

Posted By Guy Pfeffermann, Monday, February 27, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 27, 2012

While the US, Europe and Japan are in the doldrums, to put it mildly, many developing economies are growing rapidly. However with growth, comes challenges in finding talent.

The shortage of managerial talent is acute in Brazil, China and India, but these BRICs are not the only markets desperate for managerial talent.

The number of foreigners residing in Brazil reached nearly 1.5 million last year, up from 961,000 in 2010. Despite "formidable red tape for foreign workers, this country of 194 million has an increasingly diverse economy with room for those in finance, engineering, web design, petro-engineering and other highly technical professions” (Washington Post, "Expats lured by Brazil’s booming economy”, February 5, 2012).

India’s high-tech sector is suffering similar growth pains: India Google director Ram Shiram: "It’s been really hard to find middle-management… It’s great to find a good founding team, but then I can’t find middle management. I can’t find engineers”

Likewise, in Business Week's "Desperately seeking talent in India”: "Already in 2005 salaries for senior managers at some Indian companies nearly equaled those at multinationals."

As for China, the growing need for talented managers represents by far the biggest management challenge facing multinationals and locally owned businesses alike. Leading management headhunter Rick Dai says China is facing a critical management shortage that could hold back its economic growth.

Many business schools are already focusing on China, India and Brazil.

But what about other fast-growing economies of the developing world? In the last 10 years or so, more than 30 markets grew annually at more than 5 percent. Just to list a few: Angola, Kazakhstan, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Uganda, Rwanda, Vietnam, Sudan, Tanzania, Jordan, Panama, Uzbekistan, Nigeria and Peru all grew annually by 6 percent or faster. A billion people live in these fast-growing non-BRIC markets. Their combined annual income exceeds $2.5 trillion: half that of China and almost double that of India.

Yet companies may be slow to adapt. In a recent worldwide survey of talent shortage by Manpower nearly three-quarters of interviewed companies cited a lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary reason for the difficulty filling positions, but only one in five employers is concentrating on training.

Business schools should be ideally positioned to help fill the gap of managerial talent, but according to the Manpower survey, "a mere 6% is working more closely with educational institutions to create curriculums that close knowledge gaps. This underwhelming response is an alarming indication that employers are not adequately addressing the issues at the root of the talent mismatch by increasing their emphasis on training and development and partnering with outside stakeholders to improve the pipeline of qualified candidates.”

Guy Pfeffermann is the founder and CEO of the Global Business School Network.

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