The quest for talent

While there is certainly too much production and capacity in general, one resource is in ever shorter supply in the 21st century – human capital. Every statistic points to a reduction. The slowing birth rate, declining marriage rates, higher divorce rates, more single-parent families, smaller families, ageing populations – all these factors are reducing the supply of talent. Even countries with strong, younger demographics, such as Mexico, will face similar situations by 2020. Some governments are trying to stimulate the birth rate. The Chinese government is said to be reviewing the one-baby policy and Russia is worried about its ageing 145 million population.

Western Europe and Japan face significant longer-term economic growth issues as a result of the declining proportion of young people and an overall population decline. The elected and then rejected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan wanted to stimulate the Japanese birth rate, as one way of strengthening the economic growth rate. That is one reason why the rapid inclusion of Turkey into the EU is so important: another source of population growth, as well as immigrants to stimulate economic growth and access to the Muslim world.

All this points to the growing importance of attracting, recruiting, developing, training, motivating, incentivising and retaining human capital. In a less differentiated world, it will become more and more important for companies to stand out through the quality and responsiveness of their people. Making sure that your people buy into your strategy and structure will be increasingly important. Living the brand – operationally – will be critical.