Are we really facing a talent shortage?


It is hard to believe that in a country with 1.2 billion people; there could be a shortage of talent.

The word ‘talent’ as often heard and invariably mentioned in speeches, and has many ‘contextual’ references and meanings. But, according to my understanding, every reference has a different connotation and definition.

Similarly, we come across articles and research findings that claim that there is a shortage of talent in India — really hard to digest though that a country with a population of 1.2 billion can lack talent.

What I believe is that it’s we who fail to make the right kind of assessment to identify the talent of an individual.

Every person, in his repertoire, carries some or the other skill or competencies. We need to come out of the cocoon to try and identify the talents or competencies people possess.

The analysis should be free from any pre-conceived thought process. The right kind of assessment tool and methodology should be used to judge the talent of individuals, based on which we should draw conclusions pertaining to their jobs and cultural fit.

At the same time, we also need to analyse their training requirements whichwill give a razor’s edge to their overall soft skills.

We should repeatedly re-emphasize the fact that our focus should be on developing leadership skills for the next phase of growth in a knowledge-based economy like India.

It is said that leadership skill shortage is the biggest ‘productivity challenge’ in India and also in some other countries.

I would disagree. The day, the top management tries to spot a talent without any bias and makes effort to develop them, we will be able to overcome this challenge.

This is how organisations can develop future leaders:

People who learn the best turn out to be the best leaders
We should engage people to learn leadership from real-life experiences and not from theories taught in classrooms.

Principles taught should be of global relevance
Only leadership principles, which are applicable globally, should be taught to bring out the best in the form of leadership.

Achievements should be rewarded
There should be a reward system in place for leadership development achievements.

Rajesh Tripathi

Leaders should be nurtured across hierarchies: Leaders should be developed throughout the organisation, and should not be confined to any hierarchical strata.

Leadership competencies should be simply and clearly assessed: Things should be kept very simple while defining the key metrics for assessing people based on leadership competencies.

There is a need to match the right talent with the right kind of job: This particular need can only be dealt with by the management so as to make companies sustainably successful and at the same time not overlook the weaknesses of a ‘non-talent’.

There is a need for unbiased promotions 
Management should be unbiased while promoting employees. Only then will organisations realise that there is no shortage of talent as such.

Over a period of time, in the last decade or two, one has seen that there is a significant increase in successful ‘startups’ in the country. One can safely presume that this success is being achieved by rich talent, which is available in profusion, in our country.

There is a need to build ‘diversity and flexibility’
This is very important to achieve equal societal growth, well represented by all genders. The key to sustainable business is continuous innovation. The ideas behind such continuous innovation are always facilitated when we have heterogeneous groups bringing them out.

Heterogeneity is very important for a sustainable business as minds across different geographies and demographics collaborate to bring out ideas which have been sieved considering all the facets, in a broad sense. ‘Productive creativity’ underlines the importance of coming out with the best and most feasible ideas for betterment and growth. The eminence of such idea reaches an altogether different level when different mindsets converge, as a group, for such a common purpose.

There is a need to give importance to the hiring process
If one comes across an advertisement promoting a fabulous dinner set at a price of Rs 500, but can’t find the same in a store for the same price, doesn’t mean that there is a shortage of dinner sets.

When one is searching for a person with ‘X’ years of experience and ‘Y’ years of relevant experience, with knowledge of this and that thrown in, along with certifications, and specific sectoral experience and also a benchmark salary equivalent to peanuts, one is definitely asking for too much! In the real world where skills are acquired over a normal span, a person cannot fill those imaginary boots created for that particular ‘virtual’ candidate. One needs to be realistic in pursuit of the talent one is looking for and needs to give them opportunity to showcase their abilities.

The other factors, which are of equal importance and call for attention, are creating a culture which should attract, develop and empower ‘real’ talent, infusing the mores of loyalty towards organisations—which is a bit lacking, especially in India— and generating inclusiveness in building a strong talent pipeline.

(The author is VP-HR, GHCL. Follow him on twitter @rajevats)


  1. An excellent article that debunks the fashionable belief that we have a shortage of talent- what we don’t have is expertise for spotting what constitutes ‘talent’ and then opting for the ‘path of least resistance’ of pushing folks into meaningless training programmes that achieve nothing beyond sharing knowledge and of course, a much needed break, in most cases.

  2. My saying is ” Are we trying the right hat at right head ?” OR ” we have one unique hat and trying to fit that in any head “OR ” trying to accomdate hat on any head – without seeing if it is too tight or loose “. This is my personal opinion . We have ” Talent ” everywhere but must got Right head to Right hat.

  3. Yes, in real sense there is no shortfall or crisis of talent. We need to identify the hidden competencies within the available talent and nurture with a systematic development.

  4. Promoting Talent
    It is also observed that if one joined in junior category , it becomes psychological barriers that he can reach up to certain level only in this much span of time. This also becomes hindrance in developing leaders.

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