• John Bell

Future Work: Cultivating Talent

Updated: May 23


["Cultivating Talent" is one of 5 Near-term Realities of Future Work. Click here to see all five.]


The 3rd Near-Term Reality of Future Work is the radical expansion of how we cultivate talent. Finding the right talent, consistently skilling them up, and holding on to them gets harder and harder. As Korn Ferry reports in their Talent Shift Report,


“The worker deficit could surge from 20.3 million in 2020 to 85.2 million by 2030…. the lack of skilled workers needed to drive business strategy could be the defining issue of the age…Yet only 52% of executives believe there will be a deficit by 2030.”

Three Ways to Seek a Strategic Advantage


Planting Seeds: Reaching and building employer preference earlier and earlier in people’s careers such that talent seeks them out.


Story Xperiential is a startup of ex-Pixar executives who want to give all young people, including those from marginalized backgrounds, the chance to go behind the scenes with exciting employers and learn about roles and functions they could not have imagined. Their 9-week Animated Storytelling course allows students to learn the Pixar way and connect every Monday with a live stream with a Pixar animator. Students build their portfolios and get career ideas. Pixar builds an employer preference and uncovers young talent. Just imagine other brands from Ford to Sandia Labs to Intel doing the same thing. (disclosure: I am currently doing some work with Story Xperiential)


Many brands are reaching out to younger and younger talent. UpperCampus, the mobile app and startup, profiles the full range of jobs that exist out there in large and medium-sized companies. They help high school and college students imagine more by seeing a day in the life of a structural engineer or discovering careers in safety and innovation at Mercedes Benz. Brands can profile their business. Students can learn about jobs at known brands like Estee Lauder, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, and Nike.



Choosing Wisely: Hiring for the essential capabilities and a learning & growth mindset not looking for that unicorn with the 26 skills you think you need.


Employers seek skilled workers. They can’t get them. I would suggest we stop trying. Let’s hire talent with the key qualities that may have more to do with their success and then train them. If we embrace the idea of ‘always-be-learning,’ we don’t need that digital marketer with hands-on social media community management experience, paid media buying and placement, content development, and search engine optimization skills and who just happens to be amazing at data and analytics.



Always Learning: Providing and enabling skills and development training forever


What if businesses expected to offer learning and training opportunities to everyone for roughly 8-10% of their paid time on the job? Or what if they paid ‘learning bonuses’ for employees to get or take that CE course that makes them more valuable at the job? Gallup Workplace 2016 reported,


"86% of millennials claim they would’ve stayed at their jobs if they were offered training by the employer"

Most employers may balk at the cost of training or productivity loss. Would losing 8-10% of worker productivity because they were learning a valuable new skill be an expense or an investment in the business? Feels like it could be a strategic investment. In fact, many companies are increasing their learning and development budgets in 2022 according to Capterra.




Skills-based training can be curated from free resources, delivered in partnership with community colleges and other learning institutions, and developed bespoke for a company.

Salesforce Trailhead is a “career ecosystem” – a training and certification platform for sales, data, marketing, customer experience, and developer specialists. They train on much more than aptitude with their software platforms. They help make people better digital marketers, customer experience professionals, and email marketing specialists. They have over 2.6M learners and have delivered over 5M badges in 3 years. Facebook Blueprint offers free certification on their platform. There’s Grow with Google which offers certification courses in IT and Analytics. Many of these courses cost nothing or at least nothing like traditional education.


Technology and HR-service providers are releasing training and talent development capabilities to make it easier for companies - large and small - to develop their own training programs. Often curriculum can be curated from many sources like Salesforce, leaving only a minority of training curriculum to be licensed or custom-created. CRAFTED, the Craft Education System is a startup providing a data-driven platform to guide and track employee training programs for upskilling and career mobility. They connect employer/employee goals with state and federal tax credits and incentives to offset costs. There are other ways to provide training without taking on a huge cost.

Almost every community in the United States has a local community college just ready to skill up a workforce.


In New Mexico, we have Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) that prepares students for valuable jobs relevant to our state. CNM Ingenuity is the non-profit enterprise arm of CNM and delivers skills-based training in partnership with New Mexico businesses, state and local government and the individuals aiming to skill up and get jobs and promotions. Next-Gen Digital Marketer Certificate program, Deep Dive Coding, and their Electric Lineworker program are just three of their many programs.



Their partnership with Job Training Albuquerque – which funds students training – has produced 204 jobs, skilled up 287 employees and added $9.1M to annual wage-earning power locally in its first 2+ years. My program, Next-Gen Digital Marketer, aims to equip students with the most relevant skills they can take into a marketer job or apply to their own small business. All the programs are designed around opportunities and needs within the local job market.


Companies can create sustained and personalized employee training programs aimed at up-skilling and providing lateral and vertical movement for young employees hungry to sense their advancement. Employers will just have to overcome the fear that they are investing in employees destined to jump to another job quickly.



Future Work: 5 Near-Future Realities was originally delivered as a live presentation to the Economic Forum of Albuquerque in 2022.

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