Volume 4: Developing Global Talent Through Higher Education

The Global Skills Mismatch

According to global recruiting firm ManpowerGroup, more employers than ever are struggling to fill open positions – 45% globally confirm that they are unable to find the skills they need – the highest talent mismatch figure in over a decade (ManpowerGroup, 2018).

Challenges related to the recruitment of talent globally can impact productivity in teams, organisations and key sectors of the economy. According to research by PwC and LinkedIn, the talent mismatch costs the global economy $150billion in lost productivity (PwC and LinkedIn 2014). Future graduate talent, which is aligned to workforce requirements, can help plough back the lost $150 billion to the global economy.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Future of Jobs Report 2018 predicts that by 2022 the skills required to perform most jobs would have shifted significantly with an expected change in nearly half or 42% of the skills required in the future workforce and workplace.

To solve the global talent mismatch and economic productivity, governments are increasingly looking at ways to improve the skills base of their countries and future-proof their workforce. Hence preparing students and graduates for the rapidly changing world of work and for jobs that do not exist yet is of critical importance.

Key 21st Century Skills Required By Employers – Global Mindsets, Heart sets And Skill Sets

21st Century skills we believe are inherently global and reflect competencies that prepare graduates to work across borders and boundaries and contribute in a meaningful global way. In our recently published book – Global Talent Management: An Integrated Approach – we argue that there is a need to define global talent more inclusively against the backdrop of a global workplace.

For this we propose a three-pillared approach to defining global talent. For us, global talent is a unique combination of global mindset, global heartset and global skillset attributes that work together in the development of a future-ready workforce as depicted in Figure 1.

Figure 1. Global talent is the sum of global mindsets, headsets and skillsets (Adapted from Minocha and Hristov, 2019)

An individual with a global mindset is open-minded, aware of cross-cultural differences and creative in thought and gesture. They demonstrate a broad understanding of key global economic, societal, environmental and political themes and the potential impact these are having on the world of work. Emotional intelligence, openness, curiosity, and creativity characterise such individuals. 

Global heart set attributes point to the development of intra- and inter-personal traits with an inherent empathy and respect to how different individuals, organisations and cultures operate. Understanding and accepting of self and others, conscientiousness, inclusivity, compassion, and integrity would be some global heart set attributes. 

Global skill sets encompass complex problem solving, adaptable people and leadership skills, learnability, critical thinking, cross-cultural communication and a digital identity amongst others. 

It is in the integration of these attributes with the technical and intellectual knowledge synonymous with traditional Higher Education that a response to the talent mismatch crisis lies.

How Can Higher Education Institutions Respond To This Challenge?

The talent mismatch points to an urgent need to integrate workforce development requirements into our content creation and dissemination models in Higher Education. After several years in traditional Higher Education, we took a step toward pursuing our entrepreneurial pursuits in the private and start-up world. This immersion has made it clear to us that much of UK HE is lagging behind in embracing ‘whole person development’ through its degree provision. Employability is a buzzword on most campuses, but in reality, relegated to the offer from Career Services or through the provision of extracurricular programmes or guest lectures by Employers. A true University-Industry partnership in content design, development and delivery remain an unrealised reality nearly ten years on from the Wilson Review (BIS, 2012). 

New subject areas such as Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Machine Learning, and Blockchain need to be considered in the mainstream and integrated with interdisciplinary perspectives across Computing, Technology, Economics and Psychology for example. 

Content Delivery formats too require a strategic injection to bring the best of the flexibility that MOOCs offer through bite-size learning together with the social, peer learning community that Universities help establish. System integration and creative deployment of technology are essential for this to happen. Investment is key too. UK HE annual spend on physical estates topped £3bn (AUDE, 2018); an equivalent investment in technology can transform our campuses.

Developing global talent in our classrooms will be the biggest challenge that Universities face in responding to the employer and public discourse that is increasingly questioning its value add. Higher Education is at a tipping point and braver, bolder leadership is necessary to take it into imaginative new directions before it is too late and challenger institutions like Arden, UA92, Dyson amongst others take over!


About the Authors

Professor Sonal Minocha

Professor Minocha is an experienced Higher Education professional with over 15 years’ senior leadership experience across both public and private sectors in a global context, having begun her career as a business graduate from the University of Delhi before moving into an academic career which started at the UK’s University of Northumbria. With a focussed purposeful passion to take learning in imaginative new directions, she brings an international and innovative approach to all her engagements.

Professor Sonal Minocha is currently working at the Global University Systems. Prior to her current position, Dr. Minocha was Pro Vice-Chancellor at Bournemouth University with lead Executive responsibility for the pan institutional global engagement strategy and operations, UK and International partnerships, graduate

Sonal is a prolific researcher, scholar, and author in the areas of international higher education, graduate employability, management education and practice, strategic creativity and organisational learning. She has over 50 publications to her credit including books, chapters in books, journal articles, think pieces and refereed conference papers.

Dr. Dean Hristov

Dean is an Ex-Global Talent Research Analyst at Bournemouth University, United Kingdom. He has been engaged in the co-delivery of global HE projects and provides research outputs related to the employability agenda, internationalisation, higher-level skills development, and global talent.

He has been playing an active role in supporting the development and launch of successful employability projects and programmes such as Practice Weeks at the University of Bedfordshire Business School and the Global Talent Programme at Bournemouth University.

Dean has recently completed his Ph.D. in distributed leadership and organisational change at the Faculty of Management, Bournemouth University. His research is focused on emerging business-led destination leadership networks in England within a shifting funding and governance landscape.

Developing 21st Century skills in students and graduates remains prime on the agenda of governments, HE institutions and policy organisations across the world. The demand and supply mismatch, however, points to a looming global talent crisis that requires Higher Education to step up its response. In this think piece, we consider each of these themes next.