We have a curious paradox in the world of work—an alarming unemployment rate, and yet most companies have key gaps that they are unable to fill. It’s becoming more acute every day. In the Silicon Valley, and elsewhere, we have more technical jobs and fewer students graduating with the technical capabilities we need. We need deeper technical skills, such as are found in graduates with computer science and electrical engineering degrees, in order to keep us competitive. That’s not all; we continue to need executives who can manage this complex and changing environment, lead with inspiration and vision, exercise great judgment and deliver stellar results.
We commiserate that there’s a dearth of such talent, but we don’t do enough to solve it. In this entrepreneurial era, where we no longer have jobs for life and everyone is the CEO of Their Own Destiny, it is incumbent on all of us to grow the talent. We can’t just rely on traditional methods to meet our needs—and it certainly isn’t working. Companies that invest in developing their people and that take a critical look at their traditional business practices and adopt more agile work models will be better equipped for the long haul.
Companies need to train their people so they can reach their full potential. Coursework in college is outdated for the pace of change inside the work world. College once taught students skills that would last their entire careers, but now employees must constantly master new skills. Supporting employees through mentoring and coaching is necessary in order to develop and retain great talent. I’m enthusiastic about a slew of new educational capabilities and choices being developed to help meet some of the training gaps we have.
Companies cannot slow down growth because there are not enough workers with the skills they need in their geography; they should expand the talent pool beyond their immediate geographies. It is no longer about finding the best talent within driving distance to the office; it’s about accessing the best talent, wherever it is in the world. Talent is everywhere and the ability to access it and leverage it is necessary when it can’t be found or developed at home. There’s nothing to fear with looking outside of what’s expected.