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Preparing for the 2030 Labor Market

Source | | Katherine Reynolds Lewis

The next 10 years in global employment will bring dramatic technological change, expanding health care needs, unforeseeable energy demands and other developments that experts today can’t even guess at. One thing employers can predict for sure: Their current staff won’t cut it. 

The U.S. already faces a shortage of qualified employees, with 68 percent of human resource professionals experiencing difficulty recruiting full-time candidates, according to Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) research. Add to this Baby Boomers’ looming retirements and the fact that one-third of HR departments work without a training budget, and the picture looks grim.

“We have an aging workforce, slowing fertility rates, a smaller but better-educated cohort of young workers, and tightening or restrictive immigration laws,” says Elisabeth Reynolds, executive director of the MIT task force on the work of the future in Cambridge, Mass. “All of this is going to create labor scarcity, not abundance.”

The key questions CEOs and the HR departments that support them should be asking, Reynolds says, are what types of workers will we need in 10 years and where will we find them. MIT and other workforce-planning experts say they’re focused on several trends:

  • Fast-advancing technology, from continued adoption of automation, robotics and artificial intelligence to data-based decision-making.
  • Clogged career ladders for Millennials and Generation X, thanks to Baby Boomers who are reluctant to retire, which prevents younger employees from moving up the ranks.

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