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HCMWorks Insights

How to Close the Skills Gap and Stop Brain Drain in Your Industry

Posted by Julia Fournier on 16 Jun 2021

Prior to COVID-19, the Canadian economy experienced declining rates of "brain drain" sustained over three years. While it is unclear whether this decrease is perpetuated by increasing opportunities in Canada or limited international mobility due to pandemic restrictions, businesses are in a position to capitalize on the accelerating job market. To do this, employers need to bolster their talent acquisition strategies to find quality talent in an increasingly competitive environment. 

The Current State of Brain Drain

On a national level, brain drain occurs when a significant number of workers leave their home country to seek employment abroad. This can be attributed to any number of socio-economic and political factors, or a strong demand for certain types of labor in other countries.  

From 2019 to present, Canada experienced an overall decrease in brain drain, but experienced an increase in demand for Information Technology (IT) and STEM positions in early 2021. One explanation is that some students choose to study in Canada only to pursue higher-paying positions at American companies in Silicon Valley with brand name recognition. It is estimated that up to 66 percent of Canadian software engineering graduates emigrate to the U.S. for work opportunities. This type of human capital flight in IT is further enabled by new remote work opportunities brought about by the pandemic. 

As a result, businesses are turning their attention to reversing the trends by finding new ways to attract and retain top talent (both domestic and abroad) by offering benefits, training, and upward mobility. On the other hand, prospective job seekers are making the most of the new opportunities provided by the resurging job market. 

Closing the Skills Gap

One way of preventing brain drain in your business is to focus on closing existing skills gaps. This includes training and upskilling insourced employees while streamlining the onboarding processes of outsourced workers. If individuals do not feel that their skill set is being adequately utilized or do not perceive a business’s intent to educate and promote mobility, they may seek employment elsewhere. As for methods of sourcing talent and placing them in ideally matched positions, the most effective and applicable tactic will depend on market availability and the criticality of skill for business objectives. For more information, please refer to the Control Matrix for Talent & Skills Planning in our eBook How to Close the Skill Gap and Combat Brain Drain in Your Business.  

There are multiple approaches to mitigating brain drain in your industry. Filling positions without proper training or adequate skill-to-position matching prevents upward mobility, which may end up prolonging the underlying issues. Some common strategies to consider in your organization include:

  1. Gaining Visibility into Skill Distribution
  2. Expanding Your Talent Pool
  3. Diversifying Your Talent Acquisition
  4. Upskilling Employees

By implementing a variety of methods, businesses can promote upward mobility and retain talent. Hiring an expert third-party management solution such as HCMWorks to assist in talent acquisition and talent pool management can also provide insight into how your business can best attract and retain workers with in-demand skills.

To understand skills gaps in your industry and learn more about how to respond to them, download our eBook: How to Close the Skill Gap and Combat Brain Drain in Your Business.

Tags: Procurement, strategic workforce planning

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