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Staffing Management: Up Front

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Vol. 4, No. 1

Young Workers Are Thinking Globally. Competition for New Grads Expected To Be Intense. More.

Young Workers Are Thinking Globally

A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) study of its own new hires found that tomorrow's workforce expects to use foreign languages and to work across international borders far more than previous generations. For the report Managing Tomorrow's People: The Future of Work to 2020, PwC asked nearly 3,000 graduates (all soon to start work for the professional services firm) from the United States, the United Kingdom and China about their career expectations. "One major departure from the past is that the respondents do expect to work internationally," says Karen Vander Linde, a partner in PwC's Advisory practice.

"[More than] 90 percent said they expect to work across geographic borders more often than their parents did. The global economy is shaping expectations of the future workforce."

Adds Steve Rimmer, PwC partner in the Human Resource Services practice: "Almost one-third of these U.S. respondents [32 percent] also expect to use a language other than their own in the workplace. Employers seeking to attract and retain these highly capable employees will need to take these types of expectations into account."

More than a third of the U.K. respondents expect to use a language other than English at work. Some 90 percent of Chinese graduates believe they will use a language other than their mother tongue.

But tomorrow's workers don't expect to be involved in another type of mobility-- 78.4 percent believe they will have a modest two to five employers in their careers. An average 5.5 percent of respondents expect to have more than 10 employers during their careers, but this number is as high as 11.5 percent for Chinese women.

U.S. respondents "envision a working environment that supports both working in the office and from home," says Vander Linde.

"[More than] 79 percent of U.S. respondents say they expect to work at a variety of locations--both in the office and from home. Clearly a flex workplace is important to the future business workforce, so we see extended application of the flex workplace in the future. "What will remain somewhat the same, however, is the time our respondents will devote to work and when they will work. Seventy-three percent expect to work regular office hours, with some flexibility. What we see as a trend is the focus on flexibility."

Only 5 percent (on average) believe they will work mainly from home. This is as high as 7.4 percent in China but remains a meager 0.6 percent in the U.K. Some 75 percent of all respondents expect to work regular office hours.

The United States is home to the most idealistic graduates: 90 percent say they will actively seek out employers whose corporate responsibility behavior reflects their own. China is not far behind. The U.K. response is lower, at 71 percent.

Competition for New Grads Expected To Be Intense

Employers hiring new college graduates will face intense competition, according to Job Outlook 2008, a report published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Several factors point to a highly competitive year for employers, says Marilyn Mackes, executive director, NACE. "For example, overall, employers expect to increase college hiring in 2007-08 by 16 percent over 2006-07. This is the fifth consecutive year in which employers have projected double-digit increases.

Moreover, hiring projections are strong across the board--regardless of industry, economic sector or geographic region." One sign of the increased demand is that "we're seeing some significant changes in signing bonuses this year," Mackes says. "Not only are more employers planning to offer signing bonuses than was the case last year, but also the average planned bonus is 25 percent higher this year than it was last year."

Not surprisingly, employers taking part in the NACE survey cited competition as their biggest challenge in hiring 2008 graduates. They expect competition to be particularly fierce for graduates in the engineering, computer science and accounting fields, where supply doesn't meet demand.

Demand for IT Professionals Outstripping U.S. Supply

Explosive success in the IT job market is breeding serious shortages in high-quality IT talent, which may hurt chances for continued growth, according to a survey of chief information officers.

The survey of IT executives from more than 100 companies across a range of industries was sponsored by the Society for Information Management (SIM). The 2007 survey finds that retaining IT professionals has surpassed IT-business alignment as the No. 1 concern for IT executives, a change from the 2006 survey. Focus on IT-business alignment came in second.

The market for IT professionals is the fastest-growing in the U.S. economy. More than 1 million new jobs have been projected to be added between 2004 and 2014. Six of the 30 occupations projected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics to grow the fastest in this time period are IT-related. Prospects are expected to be good as demand increases because of rapid advancement in technologies, new business opportunities for leveraging applications, and the number of baby boomers expected to retire.

But the IT hiring downturn during the early part of this decade--and fear of offshore outsourcing--have caused a drop in enrollment for computer science and information systems courses, notes Jerry Luftman, associate dean of Graduate Information Systems Programs at Stevens Institute of Technology. (Luftman administered and interpreted the SIM study.) In the past decade, the number of students majoring in computer science has dropped 40 percent. A report from UCLA's higher-education research institute shows that between 2000 and 2005, the number of freshmen who planned to major in computer science dropped steeply--by 70 percent.

The loss of IT skills and IT professionalswill only accelerate the shift of IT jobs overseas, says Luftman. A fear that IT jobs are going offshore has caused this shortage in the pipeline, he says, but, if nothing is done to turn this trend around to meet the anticipated strong demand for IT workers in the United States, organizations will be forced to source their IT resources offshore.

Millennials Are Pragmatic About Job Goals

Salary, benefits and room for professional growth are the top concerns of young adults moving into the workplace today, according to the study, What Millennial Workers Want: How to Attract and Retain Gen Y Employees.

The study, by Robert Half International and Yahoo! HotJobs, examined the professional priorities of the most senior members of Generation Y--those who have already started a career or will soon start one. More than 1,000 adults (ages 21 to 28) were polled for the project. "The research depicts a pragmatic, future-oriented generation that holds many of the same values as its predecessors," says Reesa Staten, senior vice president and director of workplace research for Robert Half International. "Yet, certain distinctive qualities, such as a desire for very frequent feedback from their managers, are unique to this generation. Generation Y expects a lot [from] its leaders. Making sure supervisors of Generation Y professionals have supportive management styles can go a long way in attracting and retaining these workers, who will play a greater role in organizations as more baby boomers retire."

While 46 percent of Generation Y employees consider their career prospectsbetter than previous generations, many respondents feel they also will have to save more money for retirement and study harder than past generations. In fact, nearly three out of four (73 percent) Generation Y employees surveyed said they will likely go back to school to obtain another academic degree or certification.

Execs Are Checking Candidates Out Online

Half of the advertising and marketing executives surveyed by a specialized staffing firm say they search online for information about prospective hires at least some of the time. Among these, 14 percent said they decided not to hire someone based on their findings.

"Employers aren't just looking for red flags. They're also seeking evidence that a potential staff member is invested in the profession, perhaps through participation in trade groups or industry blogs or message boards," says Dave Willmer, executive of The Creative Group in Menlo Park, Calif.

Two hundred and fifty advertising and marketing executives responded to the following question: "How frequently, if at all, do you use Google or another search engine to learn additional information about a prospective hire?" Their responses:

  • Always: 19%
  • Sometimes: 31%
  • Rarely: 24%
  • Never: 24%
  • Don't know: 2%

Those who do search online for information about prospective hires also were asked, "Have you ever decided not to hire a candidate based on information you found online?" Their responses:

  • Yes: 14%
  • No: 84%
  • Don't know: 2%
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