Hiring the workforce of the future in today’s tight labor market

Posted On September 12, 2023

Hiring employees is difficult enough these days. If you’re looking to hire a workforce that’s forward-looking toward the future, you’re probably going to have to handle some of their training yourself.

So says our guest in a recent episode of “What’s Working with Cam Marston.” Elizabeth Crofoot is a senior economist with Lightcast, a labor market analytics firm, and she sees three primary types of skills that employers are looking for as they prepare their workplaces for the challenges ahead.

  • Digital skills – familiarity and expertise with new technologies and their applications.
  • Transition -driven skills – soft skills and specific types of leadership that will help companies navigate a fast-moving economy.
  • Disruptive skills – a combination of digital and soft skills that are uniquely equipped for not only navigating current shifts in the business climate, but driving them. These may include the use and management of AI, sustainability and green initiatives, supply-chain management and cybersecurity.

Unfortunately, candidates with this last group of skills in particular are difficult to find and expensive to hire. That’s why Crofoot says employers should consider candidates who have most of what they’re looking for in an employee, and then plan on training them with the rest. It’s not a new strategy, but one that’s increasingly necessary in the current job market – and particularly if you’re looking for those “disruptive skills” that are so difficult to find.

As technology and the economy are moving quickly, those disruptive skills in demand are also changing rapidly. Crofoot says that makes a rigorous onboarding program all the more important – she offers as an example the six-week program at Lightcast. This not only grounds new hires in the company’s culture and processes, but also should communicate paths to internal mobility and the availability of training and tools needed to reach it.

This, coupled with a strong workplace culture, can help retain some of those employees once you train them with the disruptive skills you’re looking for.

Ideally, however, a candidate will already have the transition-driven skills, making a liberal arts degree a little more useful than your parents told you.

“I think employers are pushing for those softer skills – communication, leadership, problem-solving and creativity – that are really pushed forward in a liberal arts education,” Crofoot said.

Categories: Blog, Recruiting, What's Working with Cam Marston, Workplace