Education

EDUCATION
The war for talent
Malcolm Ray
Published: 07-FEB-07

South Africa is turning the corner – economically and politically. Not only is there a stable democracy, but the country’s average GDP growth for the first time matched the overall economic growth achieved in the developed world, and shows positive signs of continuing on this trajectory.

Sounds appealing, doesn’t it? A booming economy and continental revival has laid a firm foundation for a massive surge in domestic and foreign investment.

Standing in the way, however, is a talent shortage, driven by a growing demand within the country (and continent) for professional skills. The war for talent is fiercest at the executive level — and it’s getting bloodier by the day as companies compete for a shallow pool of skilled people. This is evidenced by a massive 20 percent surge in new recruitments by the South African executive search industry, comparing favourably to the 9 percent international increase reported by the Association of Executive Search Consultants. In fact, says Derrick Boshard, a partner at international executive search firm Heidrick and Struggles, the main challenge for the industry right now is to find new sources of talent to overcome the current shortage of executive skills needed to fill available positions.

What is the scale of the talent shortage in South Africa? What might its impact be? What are the problems, and how are businesses surviving the human capital challenges? And what are the possible solutions?

The findings of this survey, based on select interviews with some of those at the coalface of the battle — search firms and corporates — in the country shows that not only is the talent gap widening, but the impact on a country that is a crucible for developing a generation of leaders who will shape the country’s and continent’s revival is potentially harmful enough to leave a lasting legacy. -Business in Africa Online



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