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by Phil Stott | February 15, 2013


If you want to future-proof your career, it helps to know two things: what skills businesses are likely to need in the coming years; and how HR professionals are anticipating meeting those needs. 

While we've looked at the first part of that equation recently (hint: tech skills will be useful), a new report from Accenture goes some way towards addressing the second part of it—and it has some potentially wide-reaching implications for job seekers. 

According to the report, Trends Reshaping the Future of HR, some 34 percent of employers worldwide are reporting problems when it comes to finding new talent, with 73 percent citing "lack of experience, skills or knowledge as the primary obstacle to recruiting needed talent." In the U.S., meanwhile, the proportion of employers having difficulty meeting their hiring needs is as high as 52 percent. 

All of that actually bodes well for people who have the types of skills that employers need—demographic changes and an expected uptick in the global economy mean that we could be facing an employee's hiring market in just a few short years. (This isn't entirely new: we've been staring at a looming skills shortage for the best part of a decade—the recession simply postponed it by a few years as many in the boomer generation extended their workplace tenure to give their retirement accounts time to recover from the market plunge that began in 2008.) 

But it does pose something of a problem for employers: if the future of business is likely to involve a serious talent shortage, how are firms going to be able to do what they need to get done? 

One of the answers suggested in the report is for firms to move towards a "'just-in-time' workforce—one that enables them to instantly find and deploy skills when and where they're required in the business."

On the surface, that might sound like a freelancer's dream, but it's doubtful that many companies will be happy with locking themselves into situations where their ability to operate effectively is dictated by the availability of non-permanent members of their workforce.

Instead, companies may well turn towards a model where existing employees are deployed in different ways on different projects—even utilizing entirely different skillsets. Obviously that is going to have to be accompanied by a willingness for firms to train employees in new areas—as well as their ability to track an employee's specific tool set and availability.

Needless to say, if that vision comes to pass, it represents a serious opportunity for careerists. Gaining a new skill now—and ensuring that the right people are aware of it, either at an existing employer or at the hiring stage with a new one—could make all the difference in your search for a new position. It also has the potential to take some of the uncertainty out of a total career change, by giving employees the opportunity to try a new role without having to make a full commitment to it.

Does that vision of the future of the workplace seem reasonable or likely? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Accenture: Trends Reshaping the Future of HR