UNDP at EIU Panel on Global Talent and Human Resources

We received a request from BDP’s Deputy Director to provide advice on the above panel which will take place on 9 September. A senior manager from BoM will be representing the organization. The agenda of the meeting is here.

Now, this is a topic that is a bit out of our regular path. So I had to a bit of quick research.  Below is the input  that I shared  with BDP Directorate.

Sort of knowing the way the EIU works, I did some quick research on the topic. There is indeed a 2011-2015 Global talent index report which was published in May 2011. That report is here:


There is also a EIU-SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) report here:


which is also not very recent (2009).

I am sure an update to this report must be on its way but I was not able to find it at the EIU web site to which we have access thanks to a UNDP subscription.

At any rate, these reports are focused  on multi-national corporations and their continuous look for new talent. The argument goes that as these corporation are becoming more global and larger and they need to recruit top talent to keep up.  While growing in size corporations will also become more integrated with some flexibility for decentralized decision making with flatter hierarchies.

Given the rapid pace of new technology diffusion and new emerging markets companies also need to be flexible when it comes to workers and need to ensure that new talent is continuously incorporated into the production value chain. These means that workers will have less stable options in the long turn and thus be less loyal to companies.

As economic growth is now more dynamic in emerging markets (and has been so for the last 5 years or so), corporations are all looking to these markets to expand in very competitive terms, including competition from new large corporations that have emerged in so-called “emerging” economies.

The reports suggest that corporation are moving to outsourcing and contingent recruitment (SSAs in UNDP speak) where employees have multicultural capacities (same as UNDP I suppose!) and preferably have soft skills such as local knowledge with a global perspective over technical skills.

Please note that the scope and coverage of these reports and arguments is limited to developed and emerging countries. We are not taking about LDCs, LICs or SDS countries -although these “markets” could probably be ripe in 10 years or so.

With this in mind, we can perhaps address better some of the topics that we see in the agenda for this meeting.

First thing we need to clarify is is we are thinking of UNDP as a global corporation (after all we have over 130 offices) and employ probably over 20k people if we include consultants) or if we are on this panel to bring in a developing country perspective. We can certainly do both as long as we exclude the poorer nations.

In this light here are some bullet points in twitter style around the various agenda topics:

Round 1. Globalization – on outsourcing

– outsourcing to emerging markets and other requires that local talent is available and concentrated in a specific location, at lower costs

– if soft skills are becoming more important that technical one then local talent has immediate value added as they in principle know the local situation.

– Such talent cannot be “imported” or created in the short term

– Nowadays competition from emerging economies corporations or local talent is increasing

Round 2. Talent Scarcity and Skills Shortages – on development of specific yet flexible skills to adapt to new technologies

– There is now evidence that innovation and new technologies do not create unemployment (no to Luddites) but rather reduce the “talent”

required by the average worker to be employed

– In this context, new technologies might actually demand less skills for the average worker while demanding a higher set of skills on the technical side which will have social consequences in terms of inequality

– A dual approach could thus be required here which will need to be balances by social policies

Round 3. Demographics – on youth

– while most developed countries face the “aging population” crisis most emerging countries have a “youth” opportunity at hand.

– however talent availability in such countries is not uniform and needs to be strengthened

Round 5. Technology

– technology platforms can and should be used to strengthen talent on a global scale.

– Youth in particular are keen on such platforms and stand ready to learn new skills and capacities

– MOOCs (massive open online courses) are one example to be considered

– Corporations can customize content for fostering specific skills to cater to their own needs

– Online collaboration platforms based on cloud systems can also be seen as a way of combining different sets of skills from different people into one single resource

– We are indeed shifting from the individual as a “master” to a groups of persons working together, collaboration, as the driver of innovation and performance. 10 eyes see more than just one pair

– big data can also play a role in talent management as it can provide a very large source of global talent for a smaller supply of jobs thus reducing costs

Cheers, Raúl


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