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What's Trending in Global Workforce Development

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The digital transformation makes hiring and expanding globally more accessible to organizations of all sizes. It's an exciting, if challenging, time to move towards a global workforce.

As companies search for professional talent and manufacturing skills across the world, staying on top of global workforce development trends is key to winning in the global expansion game. Here are three global workforce development trends to ride to success.

1. Industries and employers are getting to potential workers early

McKinsey and Company's "Education to Employment" report described the paradoxical state of the global workforce as one where young people can't find jobs and employers can't find entry-level workers. This speaks to the skills gap on a global scale.

The curious thing is that McKinsey's report found that the same proportion of employers and young people (58 and 55 percent respectively) believed that new graduates were inadequately prepared for the modern workforce, yet only 28 percent of people working at educational institutions felt the same.

This perception gap between the people who want to hire and be hired on one side and those tasked with educating and preparing youth for jobs on the other is being filled by industry groups and global companies. They're creating their own educational and mentor initiatives to fill this skills gap. This includes programs like Generation, a joint public-private initiative, and SEMI Works, an industry association program.

The takeaway: Get involved with these youth skills development initiatives. Your company doesn't need to be passive player in the process of developing the workforce it needs. Pro-actively participating in these types of programs means your company can influence what skills are taught and get in on the early pipeline of high-skilled, entry level job candidates.

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2. The intangibles are as critical as the tangibles.

The types of programs mentioned above seek to fill the global skills gap, especially in the STEM fields. However, developing a successful global workforce depends on training and nurturing all workers on intangible skills, as much as technical certifications.

In the context of a global workforce, this means developing cross-cultural learning programs that help workers understand the different communication and motivational styles that vary among countries. More teams are becoming international, which requires cross-cultural collaboration, relationship-building, and decision-making skills.

The takeaway: Develop cross-cultural soft skill training programs that are available on an ad hoc basis to individual workers, in addition to incorporating these programs in formal training programs. Most importantly, ground these programs in specific business use cases. General classes on "business culture in country X" are fine, but limited in their tangible benefit. 

Develop more targeted training, such as a class on how line managers can learn to identify cultural differences and how they impact different employees and get them motivated. Another example is having a formal program for expansion managers on how to develop and incorporate a culturally-specific on-boarding program when opening new offices or work sites abroad, one that includes necessary cross-cultural training for people in existing and new locations who will now be working together.

3. Leverage technology to have an accurate, centralized view of where your talent is and what their talents are.

Strategic global workforce development requires the ability of an organization to have a complete and accurate view of the status of its existing workforce. While local people on the ground need flexibility in managing local workers, strategic decisions about internal workforce development must be made globally.

The takeaway: To make truly strategic decisions, companies must have a centralized workforce management solution that centralizes information on existing skills and labor costs. A centralized WFM solution empowers HR teams to develop and recruit talent internally and improve cross-border operations.

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Devoting organizational resources to global workforce development helps ensure international employees grow together, rather than silo themselves off into country-specific entities. The result is a fluid, agile workforce that can not only fill a company's current needs, but is well-positioned to develop new skills to execute new business plans.


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