The Next Challenge: Global Talent Migration

By Henry G. Jackson May 1, 2012

May  CoverNot so long ago, an employer concerned about keeping its team together only had to worry about losing people to the business down the street or across town. Life was a lot simpler. Today that same employer faces competition for goods, services—and people—from around the globe.

Talent is increasingly flowing to the U.S. and other developed countries as these nations deal with low birth rates, an aging workforce that is retiring, and a skills gap in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. At the same time, global businesses are streaming to emerging markets, which are experiencing growing populations and providing attractive investment opportunities.

With strong competition among employers to build high-performing teams, the movement of talent is redefining the workplace in the 21st century, both in the U.S. and across national borders.

In a recent study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, 97 percent of global CEOs said that having the right talent is the most critical factor for business growth. When the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) surveyed C-suite executives in partnership with The Economist, the executives reported that their top challenge in the next 10 years will be attracting and retaining the best people, wherever they live. As a large segment of businesses now operate in the global marketplace, the best talent often means highly qualified employees who are not only knowledgeable about the industry in which they operate, but who also know the global implications of the decisions they make.

Advances in business technology, affordable high-quality international telecommunications and flexible work arrangements have broadened the concept of global talent migration to include virtual transborder employment. Accordingly, if people excel in their field, they're going to be found, no matter where they live.

PricewaterhouseCoopers researchers discovered that over the past decade, global movement of talent increased 25 percent. They project that by 2020 this type of migration flow will grow another 50 percent. Similarly, Procter & Gamble has indicated that it expects to get half of its new product ideas from people outside the U.S. and outside its traditional laboratories.

All this means that HR professionals must continue to play a vital role in demonstrating the value of talent management to the business. This evolution in global recruiting affects more than just the largest businesses. It's not just large U.S. companies that are moving their supply chains, people and headquarters for business advantages. Wherever you are located, whatever industry you operate in and no matter the size of your company, you will be competing for top talent in a global pool and against virtually connected work teams around the world.

As always, SHRM will be your partner—from advocating for prudent immigration policies to providing the information and tools that HR professionals need to manage global talent. We will also ensure that you understand the implications of this complex subject and that no one is more prepared to lead on the issue of talent migration than SHRM members.


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