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Businesses are flush with cash, but aren't putting it into training

Posting in Education

Many businesses today have an embarrassment of riches -- "they can't get rid of cash fast enough," according to a report by USA Today's Matt Krantz. "After a fourth year of higher profit, companies' piles of cash are approaching yet another all-time high. They're on pace to have $1.06 trillion in cash, based on estimates from S&P Dow Jones Indices.... Cash is piling up despite companies' efforts to dispense of it by buying back stock, increasing dividends and investing in capital and equipment."

One place all that the cash isn't going is worker training or retraining. In fact, a new Accenture report finds, half of all workers fear they do not have the adequate skills to perform their current jobs -- and say their employers aren't doing anything to help. Only 38 percent reported that their employer looks at all of their talents and capabilities when deciding how to best utilize them. In addition, only 53 percent of workers report that their organization documents their skills. Only 49 percent of workers believe their employers help them develop in-demand skills to ensure they remain marketable and highly effective.

The report, written by Diego S. De León, Katherine LaVelle, and Susan M. Cantrell, all with Accenture, warns that organizations need to start getting more proactive about dealing with looming talent shortages. It's paradoxical, the researchers note -- "even though millions of people are unemployed, organizations are hard-pressed to find the skills they need." Worldwide, as much as 34 percent of employers are having difficulty filling open positions; the situation is worse in the United States (52 percent), Brazil (57 percent), India (67 percent) and Japan (80 percent).

Accenture recommends that employers do a better job of planning and reaching out for the skills they will need to support growth in the years ahead. some recommendations:

Make skills development part of everyday work. "Help current employees make learning new skills a component of their everyday work. Activities like peer-to-peer learning through social media can be far more helpful in this effort than slower-moving educational institutions or traditional training departments. Only 21 percent of respondents from an Accenture survey said they acquire new skills from company-provided formal training; this trend is likely to accelerate as new forms of learning take hold and pressure to develop new skills keeps mounting."

Create "frictionless" internal talent markets. The path needs to be cleared for employees to move to where their skills are needed inside the organization. "Accenture survey results reveal that only 34 percent of workers find it easy to shift to another job in their company where their skills would make the biggest difference."

Use data-driven talent sourcing. Organizations can't sit back and wait for talented applicants to find them. Instead, they need to "proactively seek out the talent they need and use analytics to quickly identify and attract the best individuals. To do so, they will gather and analyze a rich array of data on criteria such as candidates’ previous job performance, current skills, motivation, cultural fit, work interests, work competition results, samples of actual work, social media contributions, and geographic preferences and restrictions. Currently, 60 percent of respondents to an Accenture survey said that they would be willing to make such information about themselves available to potential employers, as long as it was done in a confidential and controlled manner." Traditional resumes listing a candidate’s work experience and education "won’t cut it anymore," the report adds.

Go global in talent searches. "Organizations are increasingly finding the skills they need in locations other than where those skills are needed. To surmount this challenge, HR professionals will need to know how to locate, source and manage talent on a global basis. They will also need to adopt virtual work policies and lobby for government policies that enable skills to flow to where they’re most in demand."

(Photo credit: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook.)

— By on February 13, 2013, 12:11 PM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure