“The countries that are going to be the winners of the 21st century are the ones that are attracting young people today. In other words, as young people vote with their feet, they determine the winners and losers of the future.” — Dr. Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner at FutureMap
Technology, the virtual workforce, and shifting generational preferences: How are all these impacting international talent markets? What tools do both governments and companies have at their disposal to continue attracting future talent? How are the demands, expectations, and preferences of remote workers shifting across generations? Dr. Parag Khanna, Founder and Managing Partner at FutureMap, shared his insights on the evolving landscape of the global war for talent.
Future mobility drivers
In 2019, on the eve of the pandemic, the world reached an absolute high point in the number of people crossing borders — 1.5 billion — and 275 million people classified as expats. Dr. Khanna shared that the primary drivers for human mobility are on overdrive: demographic imbalances — the gap between the young and the old — creating labor shortages, a tax base that needs to be replenished, restored political upheaval, economic dislocation post-crisis, technological disruption, and climate change.
“You multiply all of that by the volume of connectivity we have built and you obtain the accelerated physical and digital mobility that I’m predicting for the future,” Dr. Khanna said.
Today’s youth will shape the future of the global talent pool
According to Dr. Khanna, we will reach a world population between 8.5 to 9 billion people in the next 10 to 15 years. “That’s the maximum number of people that will ever live at the same time. We talk about an aging world and what a challenge it is in terms of social security, tax base, medical systems, and debt. Yet, Millennials, Generation Z, and Generation Alpha — today’s toddlers — comprise almost 60 percent of the world’s population,” said Dr. Khanna.
Added to those demographic trends, the world population under 40 is economically insecure, doesn’t own assets, is less likely to have children, and is more mobile than any generation in the history of the world.
“The two things that often tether people to one place is either owning a home or having children. Those are the two traits that least characterize young people in the world today. That is not something we are accustomed to for the demographic, economic, and even intellectual patterns of the 20th century. If you want to understand the future, you must see it through the eyes of today’s youth,” Dr. Khanna said.
Taxes, technology, and talent
Dr. Khanna stressed both countries and companies need to reinterpret their priorities politically, economically, and socially through the lens of young people. “We need to adapt the world, our systems, our businesses, our corporate culture to the preferences, needs, and priorities of young people. The countries that are going to be the winners of the 21st century are the ones that are attracting young people today. As young people vote with their feet, they determine the winners and losers of the future.”
The mobile cohort of young people available today is the solution for countries undergoing demographic deflation. Not only that, it provides a young tax base, young workers, entrepreneurs, innovators, investors, knowledge workers, and people in the services economy — in other words, tax payers and rent payers. Countries are definitely competing for that talent — reviewing their tax systems, residency regulations, and their whole regulatory framework around rights and privileges to become talent catalysts.
Global companies are poised to ruthlessly leverage technology and the virtual workforce. It will shape the challenges of the future on both sides of the equation. For employers, they will have to offer the best conditions because of the potential for better offers out there. For employees, it broadens the competition landscape, as they now compete with people from anywhere and everywhere for employment opportunities.
“Ultimately, you need to have the best workers wherever they are. That’s what technology affords,” said Dr. Khanna. “Companies should be upping their countries, upping their game to attract people and not lose them. In doing so, you do create a competitive dynamic that is not a race to the bottom, it’s a race to the top. It will drive the showcasing of best practices around governance, tax policy, international networks of compliance, and standards.” For Dr. Khanna, it will ultimately consolidate an international system of regulations and benefits centered around one thing: the available talent.
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