What can you do about Talent Shortage?

What can you do about Talent Shortage?

What can you do about Talent Shortage?

Singapore Business Times 19Aug17

We know there are talent shortages but exactly what talent is in such short supply? MBAs are driving taxis, PhDs are doing clerical jobs, CEOs are scouring their address books for friends who can give them a job. But we still have a talent shortage. Is it techies that are missing? Or computer programmers? Or ‘leadership’ of which we hear so much and see so little? Unemployment in parts of the world is dire – but we have a Talent Shortage.

Certainly there are not enough of those who understand and keep up with technical developments. There never have been and there never will be. As the pace of technical discovery gathers momentum our species will be hard put to it to compete with AI and the ubiquitous robot. But it won’t be for lack of technical knowledge. If we fail it will be for lack of knowing what we want and why we want it. For lack of philosophical wisdom.

Your robot may cut your hair but it won’t give you a unique style. It may tell you it loves you but it doesn’t know what it means. In the end it may kill you but it won’t know why or what it has done to society.

So while we are busy ramping up technical training, micronizing data storage space and finding new precious earths for battery enhancement, let us ask what talent we need most to take human experience to a new pitch of enchantment and delight. Remember, in his day Mozart was thought of as sinfully revolutionary – “too many notes, Mozart” as his Emperor’s Music Guru said. But he took us to a level of musical enjoyment unsurpassed then or now.

We do not lack creative talent, nor application, determination and drive. We are not short of competitive genius though some of our political skills are more identified by their absence than by their Machiavellian successes. We have no shortage of tools – if anything, too many of them. But we are without a map. Purpose has got swamped by Activity. Sensitivity has given way to Measurement, often spurious. Feeling has lost out to Greed.

What matters now is not what we can find to do with our laudable technical achievements but how we can harness them to make a world of more happily fulfilled people. Because every person whose life we enhance fulfils our own life more than ever we fulfilled theirs.

There are two routes towards greater happiness.

First, we need to make better use of the history and experiences we have that have brought us to where we are. It seems we have failed to realise that excess of any kind is destructive and disqualifies joy. Only wisdom implants the roots of satisfaction. With an ageing population we have resources to study, learn and pass on that wisdom. Can we start to?

Second, we must change our criteria for successful employees. We will not do that until we balance money-making with life-enhancing and that requires properly rounded investors whether personal or corporate. An army of teachers, mentors, coaches, trainers is needed to achieve that. Happily we have them. They are the greybeards with thirty or forty years of productive life still in them. If we turn their hands to seriously dealing with these two objectives the species will survive and flourish.

Talent shortage is cured not by more brains but by more thought.