The Ritz Herald
Chicago Ford Assembly Plant, Illinois. © Scott Olson

U.S. Companies Continue to Struggle to Find Qualified Talent Despite Millions Looking to Re-Enter Workforce


2021 Talent Trends Report finds 40 percent of human capital leaders say talent scarcity has negatively impacted their organization, highlights need for reskilling

Published on January 20, 2021

Even amid record high unemployment rates across the world as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, talent scarcity remains a major challenge for businesses. According to the 2021 Talent Trends Report released by Randstad Sourceright, 40 percent of human capital leaders report that talent scarcity has negatively impacted their organization – the highest total in the past five years.

Based on a survey of 850 C-suite and human capital leaders in 17 markets across the world, the 2021 Talent Trends Report provides global insights into the top 10 talent trends that will dominate 2021, especially as businesses begin to outline recovery plans in response to the pandemic.

The survey found 40 percent of HR leaders continue to experience talent scarcity in IT, while 28 percent say they can’t find enough qualified candidates for HR roles — and nearly one in five need more finance and accounting specialists.

“2020 was certainly a tumultuous year, resulting in a global economic decline that led to millions of individuals losing their jobs. Yet despite this large talent pool of available workers, employers continue to face a growing skills gap — especially for digital skills — that has been exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mike Smith, global CEO of Randstad Sourceright. “Employers will need to focus their attention on building a more robust talent pipeline and implementing reskilling programs to gain a competitive edge as they recover from the pandemic.”

To successfully build reskilling programs and maximize their talent pipeline, Randstad Sourceright’s Talent Trends research found that many businesses are turning to talent analytics to better understand what is being spent on talent, how these resources are utilized and the availability of specific skills within their own organization. Nearly 1 in 5 human capital leaders say they have started investing in talent analytics due to the pandemic, and 90 percent say they will continue to budget for talent analytics platforms even after the pandemic ends.

“Talent analytics have always been of the utmost importance to talent leaders and will now play an even more integral role in companies’ recovery efforts,” said Smith. “As the global economy recovers and hiring increases to meet business demand, human capital leaders will play an essential role in providing their organizations with the in-depth data needed to build a robust talent acquisition strategy and help them compete for the best talent in an uncertain labor market.”

Another critical component of post-pandemic recovery cited by human capital leaders is the creation of increasingly flexible workforces. Seventy percent of employers said their workforce was just as productive or more productive while working from home, and 64 percent of talent leaders said that offering flexible working arrangements will continue to be key to attracting top talent. A summary of findings from the 2021 Talent Trends Report is below:

2021 Talent Trends Report: Key Findings

Flexibility is key to talent attraction: In fact, 80 percent say their business will consider some sort of permanent work-from-home policy.

Productivity remains high: Nearly 70 percent of employers believe their workforce was just as productive or more productive working from home than prior to the pandemic.

Employers should play a role in reskilling: A majority of human capital leaders (92 percent) say companies should be responsible for reskilling employees, but a majority also believe the government (68 percent) and universities (65 percent) have to do more.

Talent experience is more important now: Sixty-three percent of respondents believe the talent experience is now more important in a post-outbreak environment, and 75 percent of human capital leaders believe workers’ expectations of employers are continually increasing.

Shift to more contingent talent: In 2017, 29 percent of respondents reported they had shifted permanent roles to temporary ones, but that number fell each subsequent year to 21 percent in 2020. 2021 research shows expected conversions to temporary roles rose slightly to 22 percent.