Business and HR leaders are facing unprecedented change. The way we work, the way we recruit and how we engage our employees are all evolving post-pandemic, with technological revolution at the forefront.

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Myth number 4:

I’ll lose my talent acquisition employees to digital transformation

Business and HR leaders are facing unprecedented change. The way we work, the way we recruit and how we engage our employees are all evolving post-pandemic, with technological revolution at the forefront.

It’s important to remember that digital transformation isn’t just about technology. Rather, it’s a fundamental shift in how we operate our businesses, deliver value to our customers and build the future. It’s about culture change, not just implementing new technology.

This, of course, requires humans to set the parameters and strategy. Technology isn’t going to stop people from working – though it will change the roles and type of work we do. Our role is to make sure this change is for the better, not worse.

Garry Kasparov is a chess grandmaster who infamously became the first world champion to lose a match to a computer, when IBM’s Deep Blue beat him in 1997. For some, this marked the point at which artificial intelligence began to outsmart humanity.

Now a commentator and author on technology, business, politics and human rights, Kasparov argues that artificial intelligence and machine learning’s potential to push boundaries in data analysis is almost limitless – but that humans will always have the final say.

“This type of AI doesn’t care why something works, as long as it works. These machines even teach themselves better ways to learn, effectively coding themselves iteratively,” writes Kasparov.

“This is a brave new world, one in which machines are doing this that humans do not know how to teach them to do, one in which the machines figure out the rules – and if we are lucky, explain them to us. If this sounds threatening instead of amazing, you’ve been watching too many dystopian Hollywood movies.
Humans will still set the goals and establish the priorities.

“Our real challenge is to avoid complacency, to keep thinking up new directions for AI to explore. And that’s one job that can never be done by a robot,” he adds.

What tasks are automated?

This is particularly applicable to the recruitment sector, where technology is only just beginning to impact work, mainly through automation of repetitive tasks. But how?

PwC’s 2022 HR Tech survey asked 688 HR leaders based in the US about their technology usage and challenges. It found that some of the top HR problems facing companies today include HR insights and data (39%), recruiting and hiring (39%), modernization of HR systems (36%), learning and development (28%) and retention of key talent (27%).

Technology interventions in these areas are allowing talent acquisition professionals to become more strategic and less admin-based. This is particularly important in a time of rapid hiring and a competitive market. Technology-enhanced tasks can be as simple as automated interview scheduling, freeing up recruiters from making endless phone calls. They can include chatbots to ask pre-interview questions – particularly useful in high-volume recruitment as we say in chapter one – or provide videos or interactive content to increase a candidate’s understanding of the role. Chatbots also aid global hiring, allowing you to translate responses into different languages and broaden your talent pool.

Another area that automation can reduce strain on talent professionals is in the onboarding process. Digital signature software can reduce paperwork and speed up offers. Automated messaging can reduce time spent chasing candidates or managers for documents and can also improve engagement during the down period between offer and start dates.

Expert commentary

Joy Koh
Head of Growth and Advisory APAC, AMS

Technology is a talent acquisition enabler

In its simplest form, digital transformation in talent acquisition is about the automation of administrative tasks. In the current climate, we’re all being asked to do more with less. Recruitment volumes have skyrocketed in recent months, so technology is there to take away admin from teams so they can focus on valued-added, relationship-based tasks with candidates and account managers.

The types of tasks being automated include interview scheduling – no one wants to spend time making ten calls to secure one interview – compliance issues, such as getting feedback from managers on candidates, and pre-employment onboarding, such as sending reminders and collating necessary documents.

As a result of this, the skillset of a recruiter is changing. By removing administrative tasks, recruiters now need to spend more time on the relationship building side of work. When we look for recruiters now, we’re looking for a great relationship builder, for someone who is proactive in headhunting and engaging candidates. We’re also specializing more – it’s less about 360 recruiters and more about specialist skills.

Technology is also important to get the best talent acquisition team. The best recruiters want to see automation of administrative tasks, so that they can focus on more strategic roles. They’ll want to understand your technology landscape before joining – a vital factor in such a competitive market.

From a candidate perspective, technology needs to improve their experience. It’s no use putting in application technology that makes them fill out five separate forms. It’s about how you design technology to put candidates at the centre of the application process. Make it easier for them to apply, to refer friends and crucially, to onboard. Send them videos from the CEO outlining the organization’s wider aims. Book in welcome video calls with team members. Give them information on their role and sector. Technology can play a huge part in engaging employees even before their first day.

Expert commentary

Francesca Gino
Author and Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School

Taking your people with you during change

There are many effective organizations that were born remote and are still operating remotely. They attract great talent and retain great talent. Whether in traditional or remote organizations, many leaders invest years cultivating an effective culture – one that is both strategically relevant, because it prioritizes the behaviours essential to the success of your business – and strong, in the sense that employees trust that it is real and value it. Such cultures help companies attract and retain great people and contribute to fantastic bottom-line performance.

Working remotely, many leaders believe, could weaken your organization’s culture. Will your culture take a hit because people can’t meet in person, making it harder to solidify their shared beliefs? Will they be less able to use your culture as a roadmap for making good decisions in a remote environment? How can you continue to build and leverage your culture while your organization is operating remotely?

Research has shown that even when you create a culture that is strategically aligned and strong (that is, widely shared and intensely valued), it won’t help you over the long run unless you also develop a culture that is adaptive in real time. In fact, a study found that organizations that were strategically aligned, strong, and had built in the capacity to adapt quickly to dynamic environments earned 15% more in annual revenue compared to those in the same industry that were less adaptable.

Cultural adaptability – which reflects your organization’s ability to innovate, experiment, and quickly take advantage of new opportunities – is especially important now.

Leaders must continue to cultivate their company’s culture to help people stay focused on the most important initiatives even as they contend with the challenges and continuously changing conditions of the world we live in.

That’s what leaders need to focus on. Adaptability will lead to faster change. Not only do leaders need to have discussions with their employees about this: they need to model adaptability themselves. By staying curious, showing vulnerability, opening themselves up to the opinions of others. People are much more likely to accept change, and get on board with change, if they are given the opportunity to provide input and be heard.

These interventions allow talent professionals to focus on engagement and building specialist skills in sourcing or business partnering. It also provides space for upskilling, so that recruiters can continue to develop the skills needed to meet the future of work.

Of course, digital transformation brings challenges too. Our previous whitepaper Four Critical Talent Priorities Defining the New Workplace examined how digital transformation is affecting workplaces, finding that the speed of change is putting extreme pressure on talent acquisition teams to not only bring in people with the right skills, but also revolutionize their processes to become quicker and more efficient.

This is leading to some organizations bringing in technology without sufficiently reviewing or preparing people to use it. The knock-on effect of this is unsettling to existing employees, who are not used to the pace of change and struggle to adapt to new processes and systems. Here, organizations need to ensure sufficient upskilling, training and ongoing engagement to ensure their talent teams see technology as an enabler, not a threat.

Ultimately, technology is a talent acquisition enabler that is designed to make the life of a talent professional easier. At its core, technology should automate mundane tasks providing more space for professionals to fulfil strategic business aims.

It should also improve a candidate’s journey from application through to onboarding, providing a slick, efficient experience that reflects well on the company’s brand. It should engage them and provide opportunities to understand more about the role and organization.

Finally, talent technology should be part of a wider organizational strategy to meet the ongoing challenges of digital transformation. Data insights, machine learning and analytics are all going to become commonplace in our working worlds, so talent professionals need to be at the forefront of understanding these technologies and implementing them.

If you have any questions regarding your tech and digital capabilities

2023 is set to be the year of the ‘job full recession’ – an economic slowdown where we see declining GDP but little to no growth in unemployment.

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Strategic influencers: Talent acquisition’s time to lead on addressing global skills gaps


Nicola Hancock
Regional Managing Director, Americas & Investment Banking, AMS
Jim Sykes
Global Managing Director, Operations, AMS

2023 is set to be the year of the ‘job full recession’ – an economic slowdown where we see declining GDP but little to no growth in unemployment.

In fact, the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the US economy added more than 500,000 jobs in January (nearly triple the predicted forecast of 185,000), with unemployment at a historic low of 3.4%. This comes off the back of Labor Department numbers showing 10.46 million job vacancies in November 2022, with 1.8 jobs available for every unemployed person in the US.

Commenting on the report, Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell suggested the US was now moving “beyond” maximum employment, with unemployment rates needing to rise for inflation to return to the Federal Reserve’s 2% target.

So how can we have an economic slowdown when jobs growth remains so robust?

“Things are complex. While the overall economy is a concern and there is a lot of talk about inflation, if you look at it from a pure jobs and talent perspective, things remain very competitive,” says Nicky Hancock, President and Regional Managing Director, Americas and Investment Banking, AMS.

“At the end of last year, there was a slowdown in certain industries, with significant layoffs in tech companies and the banking and finance sector. The context is that slowdowns are normal in quarter four, but we haven’t seen that recently due to the impact of the pandemic.
“Secondly, some sectors like technology have seen exceptionally high recruitment over the past few years to backfill attrition and deal with growth. It’s likely that we’re seeing some normalization of hiring as organizations look at headcount,” adds Hancock.

An opportunity to recruit hidden talent

This ‘normalization’ provides an opportunity to businesses outside the tech sector, who are desperately seeking talent with technology and digital skills. The growing technology skills gaps means millions of jobs in America are projected to go unfilled by 2030 – and businesses are competing hard for people who do have those skills.

However, the scramble for talent is so fierce that many organizations are significantly hiking salaries for new hires. A typical job switcher saw their earnings jump 9.7% year-on-year, compared with a 1.7% salary decrease in real terms for those that stayed in roles, according to a report by Pew Research Center. This presents a ‘ticking time bomb’ for organizations, says Jim Sykes, Global Managing Director, Operations and Sourcing, AMS.

“Companies have been hiring massively post-COVID, bringing on talent at a premium. The disparity in pay between tenured employees and new ones is a risk to organizations, particularly when young people are far more likely to talk about pay and conditions than other generations. This could drive attrition as people forget loyalty and move for money during a cost-of-living crisis,” warns Sykes.

Talent acquisition as strategic influencers

Focusing on pay hikes and hiring from competitors is a short-term solution to a long-term issue, believes Sykes. Instead, organizations need to be making strategic changes to how they hire and retain talent.

This starts with talent acquisition professionals moving from being pure recruiters to strategic skills advisers. When a manager has a requirement for a role, talent acquisition shouldn’t simply look to fill the role – they should also consult, collaborate and influence the hiring manager on the requirements and skills needed for the position.

Doing so will allow companies to tap into skills-adjacent talent, broadening the scope and potential of new hires. A good example comes from a recent HBR podcast with LinkedIn CEO Ryan Roslansky. In it, he posits the need for companies to move away from qualifications and education when assessing talent, to skills and behaviors.

“For far too long we’ve used degrees, or previous companies or networks as we didn’t have anything better to assess talent. But with the labor market moving so quickly, we really need to figure out something to focus on. And I think that alternative, flexible, accessible path is really going to be based on skills,” said Roslansky.

Roslansky cites an example from the pandemic, where hospitality workers were laid off during lockdowns. At the same time, LinkedIn saw a huge rise in demand for digital customer service roles. When examining the skills needed for these roles, LinkedIn found that the average food service worker had 70% of the skills needed to be an entry level customer service agent.

However, rather than mapping the skills between the two groups and retraining people, most of the hospitality workers remained unemployed and many of the customer service roles went unfilled, as organizations focused on past experience instead of skills.

“Organizations need access to market insights to understand what skills are available in the marketplace. We need to understand that if we’re not looking for a like-for-like replacement, what are some of those hidden talents and markets we can map across?,” says Sykes.

However, market pressures brought about by the pandemic and an uncertain future means many businesses have simply reverted to type when it comes to hiring – ramping up recruitment, handing out high salaries and driving up attrition – rather than addressing strategic challenges.

“We haven’t changed the fact that demand for certain skills outstrips supply. What we’ve done is solve the problem by stealing talent from each other. But this won’t address the root problem – which is that our companies are growing faster than we can produce talent,” says Sykes. 
“The only way to solve this is to break the cycle. Organizations need to look at talent strategically, invest in reskilling internal talent and hire from other fields based on skills and potential. Otherwise, you’ll soon run out of talent,” he adds.

Be fast to market Talent is in high demand, so the speed at which you move is critical
Tap into hidden talent pools – Look for skills and abilities rather than past experience and profiles
Excellent candidate experience – The candidate is king. Engage, support and encourage candidates at all stages
Streamline processes – Technology needs to be aligned with and supportive of talent acquisition strategies. Too often, talent processes become complex over time and technology no longer fits its purpose. Strip this out and invest in new areas.
Be a strategic adviser – Talent acquisition professionals need to take on a more strategic advisory role to leaders. Understand the market, influence recruiters and shape strategy.

Tech skilling

With demand for tech talent far higher than supply, it’s no longer viable for organizations to simply continue buying in talent. Instead, forward thinking businesses are reevaluating how to upskill, reskill and train employees to meet the digital demands of a technology first future.

With 87% of executives saying they are experiencing skills gaps in their workforce and millions of jobs set to go unfilled by 2030 due to tech skill shortages, it is incumbent upon businesses to look at new strategies to develop the talent they’ll need for the future.

Our latest tech skilling digital whitepaper outlines new initiatives to plug future tech talent shortages. Download the paper here.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Nicola Hancock
Regional Managing Director, Americas & Investment Banking, AMS
Jim Sykes
Global Managing Director, Operations, AMS

How the TA community can help accelerate the energy transition

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The Renewable Energy Talent Dilemma

How the TA community can help accelerate the energy transition


According to IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway, employment in the renewable energy sector will need to more than triple, from 12 million in 2020 to 38 million by 2030 if we have any hope of delivering on global climate commitments. Such is the demand that if we simply recycle the existing pool of talent and supplement this with school and college-leavers we will be nowhere near to achieving the growth that the renewable energy sector needs.

Those of us involved in attracting and fulfilling the talent demands of the renewables sector have an opportunity to play a crucial part in accelerating the energy transition. In this paper we explore three ways in which the talent community can help: 

(1) Challenge hiring managers and business leaders on their perception of transferrable skills.  (2) Diversify the talent mix  (3) Make the renewable energy sector an attractive career destination


According to IRENA’s World Energy Transitions Outlook: 1.5°C Pathway, employment in the renewable energy sector will need to more than triple, from 12 million in 2020 to 38 million by 2030 if we have any hope of delivering on global climate commitments. Such is the demand that if we simply recycle the existing pool of talent and supplement this with school and college-leavers we will be nowhere near to achieving the growth that the renewable energy sector needs.

Those of us involved in attracting and fulfilling the talent demands of the renewables sector have an opportunity to play a crucial part in accelerating the energy transition. In this paper we explore three ways in which the talent community can help: 

(1) Challenge hiring managers and business leaders on their perception of transferrable skills.  (2) Diversify the talent mix  (3) Make the renewable energy sector an attractive career destination

A graph showing evolution of global renewable energy employment by technology, between 2012-2021

Graph showing World renewable electricity capacity, 2010-2021 in gigawatts

Lynne Gardner

Sector Managing Director
Engineering & Industrials

David Ingleson

Client Director

Changing mindset on transferable skills

Embracing the idea of recruiting for transferable skills and dropping the existing notion that prior experience in the renewables industry is required to succeed, is one strategy which the industry can take to meet the predicted demand for jobs in the renewable energy sector.

There is plenty of evidence that talent acquisition professionals can draw on to challenge hiring managers and business leaders on their perception of transferrable skills and build the case for recruiting outside the sector.

Not all renewable experts work in the sector

IRENA reports that 838,000 people were employed in the renewables sector in the US in 2020. But according to our research carried out on SeekOut in December 2021, there were just short of 1.2 million people who categorised themselves as being skilled in renewables – nearly 45% more than are reported to be employed in the sector. 

We see a similar picture in the UK. IRENA reported 138,000 people employed in the sector but according to our SeekOut research, 365,000 categorised themselves as having renewable energy skills – more than 2.5 times the number of people employed in the sector.

Not all jobs require formal training

IRENA’s Renewable Energy and Jobs Annual Review 2021 also shows that around half of all jobs in the sector only require minimal formal training and a non-degree level education, meaning that they are very accessible. This means that people with practical problem-solving skills and a good level of manual dexterity should be deemed as having highly transferable skills, and this talent pool could be available from a variety of industry sectors.

20% are corporate roles
In addition, if we assume that between 10 and 15% of all roles within renewable energy companies will sit in corporate and administrative functions (20/22% according to the US Department of Energy) there is much more likelihood that this proportion of roles can be filled by people who have no previous experience in the sector (apart from highly specialist regulatory or legal roles). 

The most requested skills are universal
We can also see that the top five skills featured in the job adverts posted by the top US renewables employers (January 2021 to January 2022) are universal. They were Communication 71% (of all adverts), Analysis (41%), Written Communications (34%), Verbal Communications (34%) & Planning (30%).

Most advertised skills from top Renewables employers in US visualised on a graph

‘Project Management’ is the skill mentioned most often in professional profiles of candidates working in the UK renewables sector (28.6%). ‘Management’ is listed third at 27.8%. Other skills making up the top 10 include ‘Engineering’, ‘Project Planning’, ‘Business Development’, ‘Business Strategy’ and ‘Customer Service’. (AMS research carried out via SeekOut and TalentNeuron).

All these skills are attributed via self-assessments and not necessarily listed as requirements by decision makers in the hiring process. However, if talent acquisition teams were able to highlight trends of this nature, they could open new pools of candidates outside of the sector.

What industries can we recruit from?

AMS studied the industries that professionals worked in prior to joining renewables across the US, UK, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Fairly unsurprisingly, oil and gas came top of the list.

In many cases candidates have worked for a company transitioning from oil and gas to renewables. In these cases, candidates can move internally and are likely to adapt more quickly as they already understand company processes, values, systems, communications styles and may have established relationships with colleagues.

The 2021 UK Offshore Energy Workforce Transferability Review from the RGU Energy Transition Institute  found that 70% of the UK oil and gas workforce have medium skills transferability to other energy areas and another 20% have high transferability.

This is particularly evident in the off-shore wind sector as high levels of transferability exist within manufacturing, planning, maintenance, and operations – all of which are aligned to some of the major challenges associated with large engineering projects in deep sea environments.

However, The Society for Human Resource Management’s report Preparing for an Aging Workforce’, shows that approximately one-quarter of the current energy sector workforce is over 55 years-old and within 7 years’ time will retire.

The oil and gas talent well will eventually run dry.

Second on the list of potential sources for renewables sector candidates are those coming straight from education, followed closely by those from engineering consultancies. These candidates are often already embedded within client organisations so can transfer into renewables with relative ease.

Notably, other sectors that feature high on the list are: the military, finance, automotive, defence and IT. All industries that require candidates with good technical competencies are good sources for transferable skills.

Industries with good sources of transferable skills: Oil & gas-24%, education-16%, engineering consultancy-15%, military-13%, energy-8%, finance-6%, automotive-5%, defence-4%, IT-4%, aerospace-2%, research-2%, construction-1%.

Encouragingly, we are already starting to see some evidence that companies are searching for the relevant skills, over sector experience.

AMS recently analysed the fastest growing role requirements in the renewables sector taken from job adverts in US.

Over the course of the last 12 months, the required skill, ‘Technical Direction’ has increased by 1592%. ‘Statistical Analysis’ has gone up by 677% and ‘Analytics’ by 510%. The biggest increases were seen in ‘Electric grid’ (1729%) and ‘Electric power systems’ (1637%). On the flip side, the requirement for ‘Renewable energy technologies’ knowledge dropped by 21% and ‘Renewable energy industry’ dropped by 4%.

There are of course some roles which will require specific experience but if companies can hone in on the most crucial, core skills and identify where those skills exist in other sectors they will open up new talent pools, and open the doors of the renewables sector to the next generation of the renewables workforce.

Actions for talent leaders

· Build skills from the ground upwards. An Early Careers & Campus strategy that targets recent graduates and entry-level talent will help support a strong workforce.

· Plan your talent pipeline. Work with an outsourced provider to map out where talent resources will come from, and where they may need to relocate to. 

· Go beyond traditional hiring routes. Renewable energy needs to quadruple in size to meet net-zero targets. Identify professionals with transferrable skills outside the industry –such as in engineering, military, or oil and gas – to help widen the talent pool.

· Create training programs and reskilling initiatives. Get ahead of the skills gap by finding talent with similar skillsets, or 10-15 years’ transferrable experience, to retrain and reskill easily.

Diversify the talent mix

An alternative way that we can accelerate the energy transition is to embrace a diversity-led approach to attracting talent which will bring more diverse categories of talent into the sector.

As it stands today, within the renewables sector, only 32% of employees are women (UN Women and the UN Global Compact Office), and 11% are non-white. Women are also more likely to be employed in lower-paid, non-technical and administrative roles than technical, managerial, or policy-making roles. The numbers are even worse within the wind power sector, with only 20% of the workforce being women.

Taking an industry comparison, through a gender diversity lens, however, we can see that the renewables sector fares relatively well compared to other industries, outperforming the likes of the military, automotive, and oil and gas sectors, and fares quite well against the financial services sector. A similar story emerges from the data on ethnicity (except for the military).

Graph depicting gender diversity by industry (Military, financial services, automotive, renewables, oil & gas) corss referenced by continents

Source: SeekOut

We know that the renewables sector recruits heavily from these industries, so unless the net is widened, there could be a risk of potentially worsening the picture. This means that renewables companies need to diversify the sectors from which they source talent in the future. 

One of these sectors is education. We know that 16% of all entrants into the renewables sector come straight from education, so to understand the future pipeline of talent, we conducted analysis of the 2022 graduation year in 30 leading universities in the UK, US and Europe for pure engineering-focused degrees and those with a renewables’ focus. Encouragingly, the analysis shows that renewables-focused university courses attract nearly twice as many more women than pure engineering courses, with around half (48.5%) of students in the renewables-focused courses being women, compared to just 24.9% of students in the pure engineering courses.

If we take another look at the data through an ethnicity lens, the results are less encouraging. We see that fewer Asian and Black candidates are enrolled on renewables-focused courses than pure engineering courses.

Our analysis also shows that the number of universities offering renewables-focused courses has grown significantly between 2011-2021, with the most encouraging statistic being that there has been a 55% increase in the number of universities in the US offering renewables-focused courses.

Change in the number of universities offering renewables focused courses 2011-2021: Europe 39.7%, USA - 55%, UK 41.4%


These results raise some interesting questions. Is the nearly 50/50 split (male/female) on renewables-focused courses enough, or should we push for the majority to be female to start correcting the sector imbalance? What can we do to ensure we attract more ethnically diverse participants in renewables-focused courses? How can we ensure that more courses and places are available at more universities?

Some universities are leading the way in this regard, and the institutions with dedicated research centres or easy access to renewable energy sources are ideally positioned to drive the agenda.

Actions for talent leaders

· Think differently. Find new channels to attract diverse talent and embrace the opportunities diversity affords. This includes better financial returns, supporting retention and reducing attrition, and delivering more innovative and creative solutions.

· Don’t miss out on early talent. Invest in graduate recruitment programmes and apprenticeships, develop better relationships with universities, and ensure you are recruiting in a gender-balanced and socially diverse way.

· Elevate your brand. Make yourself more attractive to diverse talent by building out engagement messages and successful diverse profiles.

· Consider different generational needs. There are four different generations in the workforce right now. Identify the needs of these diverse age groups and how you can offer career opportunities to suit them.

Build an attractive career destination

The third strategy that is needed to meet the ambitious growth of the renewable energy sector is to increase the relative attractiveness of the renewables sector to talent.  Without it being an appealing option to those from other sectors, it will simply not be possible to enact the other two strategies that we have explored.  

The recent Most Attractive Employer Report (2021) from Universum shows that the top five aspects of employer attraction for engineering students are those that offer: 

1. High future earnings
2. Training and development
3. Leadership opportunities
4. Secure employment 
5. Competitive salary

Based on this, the case for engineering students to consider the renewables sector for future employment is very strong.

  • With talent being in such demand in the renewables sector it’s likely that competitive salaries are being offered. According to the 2020 Clean Jobs, Better Jobs” report, which salary and benefits within the renewables sector outperform those in traditional energy. 
  • As the renewables sector grows and new technologies emerge, the need to train and develop staff will be high.
  • As experience is built in a sector that needs to triple in size over the next decade, inevitable leadership opportunities will present themselves to those disposed towards managing and leading others. More leadership opportunities further reinforce the likelihood of high future earnings. 
  • The renewables sector is seen as the long-term solution to our energy needs, and as a result, it offers highly secure employment. 

Further analysis we carried out on the engineering community in the UK is very reassuring. When looking at how satisfied engineers are in the sector that they work, the energy/renewable/nuclear sector (excluding oil and gas) comes out on top. In all three categories of ‘salary satisfaction’, ‘job satisfaction’ and ‘feeling valued in job’, no other sector comes out more strongly than energy/ renewable/ nuclear.

As the table below shows, this is overwhelmingly positive for the industry. 

Table cross referencing engineers' job satisfaction against industry (Energy/ nuclear/ renewables, food & drink/ consumer goods, automotive, defence & security/ marine, rail/ civil structural, aeospace, chemicals & pharma, medical, manufacturing, telecomms/ utilities/ electronics, oil& gas, materials, academia)


Engineers in the renewables sector are more satisfied with their salaries, their jobs and their sense of value than in all other sectors of engineering

In Oli & gas 79% approve of CEO vs 88% in Renewables; 69% would recommend oli & gas as workplace vs 76% recommending renewables


Employees within the renewables sector approve of their CEO 9% more and would recommend their company 7% more than their oil and gas counterparts

But talent acquisition professionals can’t afford to rest on their laurels. While people working within the renewables industry are more satisfied than other sectors, and, on paper, the industry ticks all the boxes for being an attractive place to work, persuading engineers from the oil and gas industry to make the leap from their current role will be tough.

The data shows that engineers in the oil and gas sector are least likely to be considering a change of job. Given that approximately one-quarter of the current energy sector workforce (the majority of whom are in oil and gas roles) is over 55, many may be sitting tight, knowing they can see themselves through to retirement. 

As we have seen with the Universum data, money is still a significant consideration in terms of the attractiveness of employers and sectors, and, as the table below shows, the oil and gas sector is leading the way. 

Table cross referencing engineers' pay against industry (Energy/ nuclear/ renewables, food & drink/ consumer goods, automotive, defence & security/ marine, rail/ civil structural, aeospace, chemicals & pharma, medical, manufacturing, telecomms/ utilities/ electronics, oil& gas, materials, academia)

There is, of course, a growing concern in the oil and gas sector around future career prospects as you can see from the data provided by OGJS illustrated below. But remuneration and reward need to be comparable. It is the job of talent acquisition professionals to explain these nuances to hiring managers and provide them with the insights to build business cases for offers they are making.

OGJS data on level of confidence in finding new employment in the energy industry: Oli & gas decreased from 81% in 2020 to 75% in 2021; renewables - increase from 82% in 2020 to 89% in 2021

Actions for talent leaders

· Be purpose driven. Many employees want to work for an ‘employer of purpose’ that embodies their values. It’s important to market yourself effectively and authentically, and be transparent about your energy transition journey.  

· Gain trust. To promote a green vision for the future and sustainable goals, business leaders must communicate a clear, measurable plan to achieve this. You must also provide clarity on the challenges that lie ahead. 

· Develop mutual understanding. For oil and gas companies transitioning to clean energy, prospective candidates will need to understand the continued reliance on oil and gas at this stage of the journey towards carbon neutrality.

· Be mindful of wider market conditions. In the current economic climate, candidates are seeking job security. Showing that you offer business stability will be crucial to attracting and retaining talent. 

Case Study:
Multinational Energy Company

AMS is collaborating with a global energy giant to build a world-leading renewables division that will ensure they meet their net-zero commitments and tackle the skills shortage.

Since 2014 we have worked with the business across all hiring disciplines – internal mobility, experienced hiring, and emerging talent to deliver:

  • 1600 hires per year in 26 countries globally
  • 90% Hiring manager satisfaction
  • A 25% reduction in time-to-offer
  • EVP realignment and support for DE&I goals

The business could lean on AMS’ unmatched expertise for their full talent acquisition strategy – digitalisation, automation, enhanced candidate experience, and continuous improvement.


Our analysis shows that there are many ways in which talent acquisition teams globally can play a part in accelerating the energy transition. However, with the geopolitical instability we are experiencing and without significant movement on some of the more powerful enablers of the energy transition, such as transformational policy change, government-funded training/investment schemes and strategic reskilling programmes, there is only so much that can be achieved. These enablers require huge investment and political will, with bulletproof business cases to secure the necessary funds. So, let’s hope that the people in power can make the right decisions on our behalf and for our future so we can accelerate the energy transition for the benefit of everyone. 

Whilst this paper merely skims the surface of the actions that need to be taken to address the challenges ahead, talent acquisition teams can play their part in helping the sector to achieve its ambitions. We hope that it gives you some hope and excitement for the future and provides food for thought in your efforts to find the talent needed to bolster the renewable energy sector.  

If you would like to talk to us about recruiting for the energy or renewables sector, please get in touch.

Source of research data is SeekOut unless otherwise stated.
Data accurate as of March 2022.

Source of research data is SeekOut unless otherwise stated.
Data accurate as of March 2022.

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is an established market globally. Every day, thousands of the world’s best-known organizations trust RPO partners to source and recruit candidates, in the process trusting them with their brand and Employment Value Proposition

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Now is time for the rise of Contingent Process Outsourcing


Mark Jones
Executive Vice President/Managing Director, Contingent Workforce Services, Americas, AMS

Recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) is an established market globally. Every day, thousands of the world’s best-known organizations trust RPO partners to source and recruit candidates, in the process trusting them with their brand and Employment Value Proposition (EVP).

In the US, RPO providers are closely integrated into organizations, working with talent acquisition to attract the very best people. When it comes to contingent labor however, things are very different.

In the majority of cases across the US, contingent workers have historically been treated more as commodities – a service that is procured via organizations supply chain function and recruited via staffing agencies who have little to no affinity with an organization’s brand.

Talent attraction

Historically, contingent labor has been about ‘can you find me someone, how much will it cost and when can they start?’ It is a very different conversation for full-time employees, who are seen as a segment to invest in and develop. Contingent and full-time hiring are kept as two separate operations, recruited and managed in separate ways.

The challenge is that finding talent in the current climate is difficult, and, in my opinion this is not going to change any time soon.  In addition, organizational demand for contingent labor is also growing as are the expectations of the US workforce to be able to operate via a contingent channel. Companies have grown their contingent worker population by over 50% since pre-pandemic (Brightfield). According to a US Government accountability report, 40% of the US workforce is made up of contingent/freelance workers which will rise to 50% by 2050. The pandemic has only increased the trend that was already being established towards flexibility in working models and approach.

True freelance workers enjoy the ability to work at different times, in different opportunities, often for more than one client at a time. Secondly, if you look through history, you see that contingent workforce hiring goes up in a downturn and vice-versa. As economic conditions tighten, organizations want more flexibility on their workforce base to allow strategic goals to be achieved whilst minimising fixed costs.

This is compounded by the demographics of the US labor market being relatively stagnant. We have restrictions on immigration, an ageing population, a workforce that through illness haven’t been able to return to work post-pandemic, and another segment who don’t want to go back to the way things were. Organizations are fishing in the same pond for talent and coming up short, as we’re not putting any fresh water into the pond.

One way to change the status quo is change the way we fish for talent. Can we use the power of an organization’s brand to better attract contingent workers? Can we do some of the things we do from an RPO perspective to help contingent talent? And, in doing so, can we narrow the train tracks between contingent and full-time labor?

I believe that because there is an increasing demand for non-permanent, flexible working, the US is going to see increased investment in contingent labor and it is going to force the twin tracks of traditional recruitment closer to contingent hiring – with some even merging together in the quest for achieving total talent. The gap between how and why we recruit contingent labor and full-time employees will narrow. However, from an employment and compliance perspective, it’s important to keep some elements of how workers are engaged and managed separate and defined.

As I reflect on the major changes and challenges that have impacted the world we all live in, and look at how the contingent market is changing, the phrase I kept coming back to in articulating this evolution of the market is ‘contingent process outsourcing’ which includes direct sourcing of contract labor.

As I have already said, RPO is already very well-established. Organizations outsource all or part of their recruitment to companies who are entrusted to find talent, manage branding and deal with back-end administration like onboarding and payroll.

Contingent process outsourcing can act in a very similar way. How you attract people and manage them can be the same and the process outsourcing element can be the same. The only difference is that the process is designed for a specific population of workers who have a specific way of being onboarded and employed. They are not ever going to be your full-time employees, but that doesn’t mean you can’t attract them and operate in the same fashion as those who are.  In fact, this is only beneficial for you if you like to try before you buy and regularly convert contingent labor to full-time employees. Virtually every organization has an EVP for their full-time workforce, but very few have a Contingent Value Proposition (CVP) and I see this as a significant missed opportunity when 50% of US workers will operate this way by 2050!

Contingent Process Outsourcing is different from what staffing agencies offer. Staffing agencies play an invaluable role in sourcing workers and there will always be needed for a robust staffing industry. However, the US market is big enough for organizations to introduce the concept of contingent direct sourcing for a certain element of their contingent needs. These workers are attracted to an organizations brand and our managed and treated as such with an eye to long term relationships.

Why choose process outsourcing?

The benefits for employers are clear. Organizations will have people who want to work for them irrespective of how they work for them – contractor, freelancer, full-time etc. All talent will believe in the mission and values of the business, rather than simply being a transitional asset.

Another benefit is cost. On average, our contingent direct sourcing saves companies 10% versus using a traditional staffing agency. However, while cost savings are always nice to have, the biggest driver currently is simply finding the best talent and attracting it to your brand in a very competitive market. With unemployment in the US at a 60-year low, finding the right talent however they are engaged and managed is the biggest reason organizations are turning to contingent direct sourcing.

Why? Firstly, because it drives quality. Contingent direct sourcing creates and nurtures talent that wants to work for an organization and has an affinity for it. Companies have some ownership of that talent pool, with the outsourcer nurturing contingent talent and building a pool of talent that will return to work for the organization again and again.

Of course, this concept of contingent direct sourcing is already established and has become more popular over the last 18-24 months. However, I believe there is a huge opportunity to develop this further especially given the significant and likely permanent shifts in the labor market.

Future of contingent hiring

Adoption of direct sourcing programs has been sporadic and challenging because it means different things to different organizations. A lot of organizations have dipped their toe in the water, but they’re not all leveraging this new way of hiring in the US market to its full extent. That’s a challenge as the only way you create significant savings in contingent labor is through volume.

This will change. Contingent Process Outsourcing leveraging direct sourcing is another way of engaging and attracting talent by harnessing an organization’s brand. With contingent hiring on the rise and flexibility key for both employer and workers – think about the need for skilled technology workers in our talent pools.  We’ll see more organizations looking at how they can better leverage contingent workers as a strategic advantage rather than just as a commodity.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contribution from:

Mark Jones
Executive Vice President/Managing Director, Contingent Workforce Services, Americas, AMS

The world of recruitment has changed dramatically in just a few decades. What was once an entirely human-centric endeavour, with people wading through printed resumes, making calls on telephones and searching rolodexes for contacts has morphed into the digital world of AI, applicant tracking systems and chatbots.

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Myth number 3:

Today’s workforce is more tech enabled

The Great Resignation has led to global talent shortages, as employees re-evaluate what they want from work and working lives. As talent leaves the market, employers are facing an increasingly competitive battle to find the right people to fill roles, with wage inflation rampant.

In the US alone, nearly four million people quit their jobs each month in 2021 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with job openings at a record high. One area particularly oversubscribed is tech talent, with huge demand for digital specialists brought about by rapid transformation programs driven by the pandemic. Add in the freedom of remote work which is removing geographical barriers, and more people are feeling empowered to pursue better opportunities.

While the current market for talent in the tech industry is more challenging – Amazon shrank its workforce by 100,000 last quarter and Alphabet slowed recruitment – employment is still up 14% year-on-year. 

Furthermore, it’s not just Silicon Valley that needs to hire technology talent. Citibank is hiring 4,000 tech specialists to revamp its operations.

Tech talent in demand

So what skills are actually in demand? According to McKinsey & Co’s Tech Talent Tectonics’ paper, there are seven key areas companies are looking to recruit for: DevOps; platforms and products; automation; customer experience; cybersecurity; data management and cloud architecture.

Filling positions in these areas is proving a challenge. A survey of 1,500 business leaders by McKinsey found that 87% were not prepared to fill these skills gaps, while 61% of HR professionals believe that hiring developers will be their biggest challenge in the years ahead.

This is a global challenge too. Germany requires an additional 780,000 tech specialists by 2026 to meet the demands of its economy, while experts estimate a shortage of 3.5million cybersecurity jobs by 2025.

Clearly, traditional recruitment methods – increasing salaries, poaching talent from competitors, headhunting – isn’t going to be enough to meet the huge demand for technology specialists. So how can businesses succeed in such a challenging market?


One way is to develop in-house training to upskill and reskill existing employees, including those from non-technology backgrounds.

Financial giant JPMorgan invested more than $350million in providing upskilling programs to its employees and forecasting future workplaces skills, with a heavy focus on digital. The aim, according to CEO Jamie Dimon, was to help employees meet the challenges of a changing economy and workplace.

“The new world of work is about skills, not necessarily degrees. Unfortunately too many people are stuck in low-skill jobs that have no future and too many businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need,” said Dimon.

This chimes with the new hiring reality for many organizations. With the unemployment rate for tech talent in the US hitting 1.3% in March (a third of the national average of 3.6%), many companies are bypassing academic requirements to focus on skills-based recruitment alongside hiring from new regions.

Apple, Tesla and Google are among the organizations who have removed the need for a bachelor’s degree from some of their job requirements, while half of IBM’s US job openings do not require a formal degree. Hiring for skills and attitude and providing ongoing learning – both internal and external – is going to be a key way of developing the technological skills organizations need in the future.

The benefits of this new way of hiring extend beyond simply helping you develop the talent you need. It also improves employee engagement, social mobility and diversity within your organization.

Take the example of cloud software company Zoho Corp. Headquartered in Chennai, India with an international base in Austin, Texas, Zoho has run internal training programs for employees and tech apprentices since 2014. Its Zoho Schools of Learning run 12-18 month programs in software development and engineering, but also in softer skills like problem solving, communication and customer relations.

“We realized the futility of looking for so-called pre-qualified talent. First, there was a lot of competition for it, and second, college degrees didn’t really amount to much in our business,” said Chief Strategy Officer Vijay Sundaram in this interview with ComputerWorld.

“It all came down to what knowledge people had about technologies, as opposed to what they learned in an academic institution; how much they worked with customers and related problems. And that translated into measures of success,” he added.

Abandoning traditional hiring practices also meant Zoho was able to attract a more diverse population, hiring people from smaller towns and with underprivileged communities – tapping into a talent base rife with potential that had gone unnoticed by its competitors.

Technology talent is vital to the future success of almost every organization. With such a huge demand on a relatively small skillset, it’s vital businesses think creatively and move beyond traditional recruitment methods to fill this talent gap. 

Expert commentary

Michelle Hainsworth
Managing Director, Talent Lab, Tech Skilling, AMS

How to beat the tech talent crunch

There is incredible demand for tech talent globally and the pandemic has seen organizations accelerate their tech strategies even quicker. However, there is a huge dearth of people with these skills. There simply isn’t enough talent out there.

Competing for the same talent means wage inflation, if indeed the talent exists, so we’re looking at how we can develop tech talent differently by pushing reskilling to the front through our tech skilling program.

First, we are looking at sourcing candidates with adjacent skills. They might be career changers, they might be those early in their careers, or they might be returning to work. We then onboard them, put them through a 6-12 week program to train them on tech skills or tech adjacent skills and then deploy them into workplaces. Training and continuous development is offered over a period of 18 months, before they convert into full-time employees with our clients.

The program addresses a couple of challenges. First, many businesses are struggling with the shortage of tech talent, but also with talent redeployment. They might have people whose roles are becoming redundant, so they want to retrain and reskill existing workforces rather than hiring externally. We know that the half-life of a job is about 2 ½ years now, so people are going to need to continually retrain.

Second, many organizations were slow to react to the move towards digital platforms. With such huge demand and accelerated growth, organizations are going to be facing tech talent shortages for some time.

Today, hiring isn’t just about getting people in through the door – it’s about what you do with them afterwards. The best people will not stay unless you offer them learning opportunities. Invest in a hire to retire lifecycle and help your people develop throughout their careers.

If you have any questions regarding your tech and digital capabilities

Social mobility is very much on the agenda in the UK. The first round of the government’s Levelling Up funding saw £1.7bn distributed among 105 UK towns and cities, with further plans in place to invest regionally, in skills training and in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.

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The UK needs to talk about why social mobility and social value matter


Matthew Rodger Chief Growth and Commercial Officer, AMS
Mel Barnett Managing Director, PSR, AMS
Anna Crowe Client Operations Director, AMS

Social mobility is very much on the agenda in the UK. The first round of the government’s Levelling Up funding saw £1.7bn distributed among 105 UK towns and cities, with further plans in place to invest regionally, in skills training and in some of the UK’s most deprived areas.

 It’s not before time. Research from the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggested that “on a wide variety of measures, regional disparities in the UK are greater than in most comparable countries.” At the same time, research from the Office for National Statistics shows that only London and Northern Ireland have seen economic growth since the start of the pandemic.

With social mobility levels in the UK languishing behind our neighbours, it’s obvious that businesses have a part to play in spreading opportunities more evenly across society – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it makes commercial sense.

But there is still a long way to go. Research by the Social Mobility Foundation found that working class professionals earn an average of £6,718 less than their middle class peers – a pay gap of 13%. This means underprivileged professionals essentially work 13% of the year for nothing – almost one day in every seven.

“This class pay gap is not just an indictment of professional employers. It is morally unjust and economically illiterate,” said Social Mobility Foundation chair Alan Milburn on the release of the research.

Britain’s professions are a cornerstone of the modern economy. In 2021, services industries contributed £1.7bn in gross value added to the economy, 80% of the total figure. Britain’s success in the global economy relies on the very best people, regardless of their background, being attracted, not deterred, from working in the professions,” he added.

In addition to factors relating directly to social mobility and inequality, the way in which businesses interact with the environment, and how their leaders communicate on issues is becoming ever-more important. It’s no surprise that ESG (environment, social and governance) and the need to focus on sustainability are top of mind for many c-suite leaders as we move into the post-pandemic era.

Take Larry Fink, CEO of asset management giant Blackrock, who used his annual letter to CEOs to discuss how “stakeholder capitalism is all about delivering long-term, durable returns for shareholders” and that “it is more important than ever that your company and its management be guided by its purpose”.  

Or how about the media frenzy around Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s decision to give away all future profits to combating climate change, proclaiming “as of now, earth is our only shareholder”?

However, it’s not only the private sector who are making an increased commitment to responsible business. Increasingly, public sector organisations are paving the way and selecting suppliers based on ethics, social responsibility and how much social value they provide to the wider community that they serve.

What is social value?

Put simply, social value refers to the meaningful impact an organisation has on society. When it comes to public sector procurement, it looks at how the partnership can have a positive and lasting effect on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of a community.

The UK’s Social Value Act should be applauded for what it sets out to do. Pre-pandemic, the launch of the government’s Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012 encouraged public sector bodies to consider social value alongside cost and quality in any tender process. This was reinforced in 2018-19, with the introduction of the common values procurement framework, which recommends that social value should make up a minimum 10% weighting of any tender.

The pandemic and ongoing economic recovery has thrown social value into even sharper focus, with greater importance being placed on the impact organisations have on local communities and social responsibility.

“When it comes to social mobility and sustainability, if we can support our customers’ goals in these areas, it’s a win/win. In the public sector, social value is a crucial factor, so being able to demonstrate our work in this area is incredibly important and we have a real responsibility to do the right thing,” says Anna Crowe, client operations director at AMS and the company’s social value lead.

AMS’s public sector resourcing (PSR) service provides more than 19,000 skilled workers across the UK government at any one time, meeting contingent resourcing demands on large projects including Brexit and the pandemic. And while PSR has no commercial obligation to respond to the impact of social value, Crowe argues that doing so is the right thing to do.

To this end, PSR formed its own social value strategy to align with the challenges facing the public sector and began working collaboratively with its clients.

“The Social Value Model was built to address five key themes that include Equal Opportunity, Tackling Economic Inequality and Fighting Climate Change each with subsequent policy outcomes. On the PSR framework we have projects and programmes aligned to each of these areas to drive positive change, as well as repurposing initiatives already in place at AMS to make them applicable to our public sector customers,” says Crowe.

For example, Crowe’s team identified that they didn’t have detailed information around the DEI demographics of the contingent workforce they supplied through PSR. So, they created a pulse survey to capture that information and reported back to their customers, giving them full visibility over their entire workforce, not just permanent employees.

A future objective is to create technology that can provide ongoing reporting on a live basis, allowing customers to check the efficacy of targeted interventions on an individual basis, providing greater depth on DEI impact.

AMS has also introduced a new service line in PSR, called recruit, train, deploy. This will bring in trainees from under-represented or those from lower socio-economic backgrounds, upskill them and then place them in a client’s business, providing both commercial and social value. Partnerships with inclusive recruiters like Recruit for Spouses, Auticon and Bridge of Hope will help to provide opportunities to individuals who might not think public sector roles are for them.

“The commercial value comes from upskilling these people,” says Crowe. “Clients get individuals more cost effectively who can be trained into new roles. Given where the market is and the high day-rate of skilled workers, bringing these individuals in from different backgrounds, training them and putting them into the public sector is both cost-effective and has a significant impact on social mobility.”

Matthew Rodger, chief commercial officer and ExCo sponsor for social mobility advocacy at AMS, agrees: “Driving social mobility is central to AMS and something we openly focus on and actively celebrate. This year, for the first time, we entered the Social Mobility Employer Index, the leading authority on employer led social mobility and we are honoured to be a top 75 employer in the Index. It is also promising that 15% of all entrants were from the public sector which shows a clear commitment to social mobility. We still have so much more to do in this space and partnering with our public sector stakeholders allows us to further engage and amplify our efforts,” adds Rodger.

An important driver for social mobility is the ability to collect and analyse data on the socio-economic background of potential hires. AMS now collects data from all new hires on type of school attended, parental occupation and eligibility for free school meals.

Tech skilling

Another area which is top of mind for government and business leaders globally is the dearth of relevant skills, particularly in the tech and digital space. AMS, in partnership with its public sector stakeholders, will be hosting a roundtable specifically on tech skilling and social mobility which will address the myth that tech talent hiring is only possible through traditional routes to market.

“As the hiring demands for tech skills in the UK continues to rise, organisations are finding it challenging to access the talent they need to innovate and progress. The UK government recognises the importance of the tech sector and tech skills for improving the UK economy, but also acknowledges there is a significant shortage of available candidates in the market,” says Mel Barnett, managing director, PSR.

“It is no surprise we see digital skills alongside levelling up at the heart of the UK Digital Strategy launched earlier this year. With this market reality and with the government’s digital strategy clearly outlined, it is evident that traditional routes to talent are not going to deliver the candidates hiring managers need. As such, a fresh approach is needed by organisations hoping to build digital-ready workforces that can carry their businesses into the future and we hope roundtables like the one we will be holding in January will allow us to openly discuss what is urgently needed to help individuals and businesses to succeed,” she adds.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

with contributions from:

Matthew Rodger
Chief Growth and Commercial Officer, AMS
Mel Barnett
Managing Director, PSR, AMS
Anna Crowe
Client Operations Director, AMS

When you think about the future of the workforce in Germany, you have to think about demographics. For over 30 years Germany’s population has stayed at 80-84 million, what has changed significantly is the age of the workforce.

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The future of the workforce in Germany

Lead author
Brett O’Connor Client Director, EMEA, AMS

Ute Neher Head of Executive Engagement,
Heike Lipinski Client Director, AMS

When you think about the future of the workforce in Germany, you have to think about demographics. For over 30 years Germany’s population has stayed at 80-84 million, what has changed significantly is the age of the workforce.

When East and West Germany reunified in 1990, around 1.2 million Germans were born each year. Now, it’s nearer to 900,000. Around 10% of the population is aged 15-24, which has fallen from 16-17% in the mid-80s. This means that it is increasingly difficult for companies – both big and small – to fill job roles with the talent required.

In fact, there are currently 1.7 million unfilled jobs in Germany, with critical labour shortages across all industries. With such an ageing population, if the country doesn’t bring in skilled people in their 20s and 30s soon, they’re going to face huge talent shortages for years to come. By 2030, Germany could have 5 million fewer workers than it does today to which automation cannot compensate.

Laptop displaying a graph from 'Bloomberg' magazine

The need for new talent

The most pragmatic solution that is going to address the challenges is increasing net migration, which before COVID-19 was just over 300,000 people per year. This is a similar amount of people that migrate to Canada and Australia each year, yet with smaller populations there is a vastly greater demographic and economic impact than in comparison to Germany.

The current German federal government is determined to bring in more immigration, to which the challenge is the attractiveness of Germany to global talent. Changes have been proposed to visa regulations and opening dual citizenship for people from outside the EU. However, a key challenge is mastery of the German language. It is not a global language, therefore English-speaking business cultures have the edge in attracting global talent be it Canada, Ireland, Switzerland, the US, or Singapore – all vastly easier countries to integrate into when compared with Germany.

To combat this, some German companies have adopted English as the first language – especially in IT departments. This is particularly prevalent in fintech and start-ups, which are more international in nature. For example, N26 the market leading German mobile bank has adopted English and French as its internal language, which helps them to bring in international talent from the US, South Asia, and other regions.

However, this doesn’t work in all industries. One of the benefits, yet also a challenge, is that Germany has one of the world’s most highly advanced and unique vocational training systems. Germany not only makes products – engineering, pharmaceutical, biotechnology – but it also designs and produces the capital equipment that makes those products giving it a unique place in the global supply chain market.

Changing how those organisations operate is not easy. One multi-national engineering company AMS partnered with, had an executive board who wanted to bring in more English-speaking talent. However, they found that their engineering leadership teams weren’t comfortable speaking in English. More importantly, their customers weren’t comfortable speaking in English.

When you’re setting up a high-technology manufacturing facility in Germany, it is not practical to do this just in English. A reliance on support from the local community and the vocational education system – would be a very challenging transformation. Tesla has adopted a dual running system of German and English-speaking shifts, which may point the way to future ways of working for some production and assembly roles.

There are 1.7 million unfilled jobs in Germany

The population aged 15-24 has fallen from 17% in the 80s to 10% now

By 2035, Germany is estimated to have 7 million fewer workers than today

What talent wants is changing

The second challenge for these types of organisations is that the changing demographics of Germany mean that 40% of apprenticeships went unfilled in 2021. Whereas these organisations might have had a significant number of applicants per role previously, they’re now lucky to get half of those – or even no applicants in some cases. This means that they can no longer rely on their employer brand to attract applicants.

Like other countries, Germany has a model that is seeing an increase in digitisation, automation and changing attitudes to what people want in life and work. The modern workforce is not so keen to commit to working their way up in one company for 20 years – especially when the work is often specialised.

Take two famous companies – Roche pharmaceuticals and Deutsche Bank. Roche is a family owned business and has been for 125 years. The current CEO started as a trainee, and so will the next CEO. Deutsche Bank’s CEO also started as a trainee. This mindset of lateral movements through an organisation is changing for many companies.

A need to do things differently

To sum up – the practices that have made Germany successful in the past are not going to be successful in the future. Germany has a world leading education system, scientific and academic employment market that other countries would strive for. There is however more work that needs to be done to accelerate immigration, integrate people into the community and workforce and make the country even more attractive because the best global talent has a choice.

The changing demographics across a range of sectors means that organisations will continue to have a limit on application numbers, so they need to work on brand, engagement, community and think very carefully about accommodating migrants into the workforce. It is less likely they will find the perfect candidate from a robust shortlist of choice, so companies need to be open to accommodating people from different backgrounds, life experiences and of different ages.

The last twenty years has seen the nature of work change. People want more balance in their lives, from remote working to reskilling and having different careers. Organisations need to allow people to bring more of their culture and themselves to work.

Finally, it is also about changing the mindset of how we operate. Organisations should consider a total transformation of their recruitment, engagement, induction, and work practices that are in place. Whilst, recognising that people now have significant choice in their careers.

“With the prospect of huge retirement and labour shortages in the upcoming years, organisations need to transform their attraction, retention, sourcing and recruitment strategies. They will need strong partners and new perspectives to master the challenge and to navigate the future of work. We still have untapped talent creating big opportunities for employers across the region who are ready to change their mindset, build on DE&I and transform their workforce”, comments Ute Neher, Head of Executive Engagement at

This isn’t a new topic for Germany, it has been widely discussed for decades. However, Germany should be confident about its potential to succeed in the future of work – but it needs to face these challenges head on.

If you find yourself facing these challenges please contact us here.

written by the Catalyst Editorial Board

Lead author:
Brett O’Connor
Client Director, EMEA, AMS

with contributions from:
Ute Neher
Head of Executive Engagement,
Heike Lipinski
Client Director, AMS

The talent technology marketplace is huge – and it’s only going to get bigger. By the end of 2022, the global HR software market is expected to exceed $10bn, with the rate of growth in talent technology set to reach 13.5% by 2025.

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Myth number 2:

Once launched, technology can look after itself

The talent technology marketplace is huge – and it’s only going to get bigger. By the end of 2022, the global HR software market is expected to exceed $10bn, with the rate of growth in talent technology set to reach 13.5% by 2025.

However, with this growing usage comes a challenge for talent technology companies to move beyond their individual areas of expertise and build out into more comprehensive offerings.

Boston Consulting Group breaks down talent technology offerings into six key areas, with specialist providers leading the market in each section. These areas include providers that anticipate future needs, assess skill levels, source internal and external talent, develop employee skills, embed workers in an organisation and manage performance.

The problem for users is the lack of integration between various technology providers. With no single solution available to practitioners, talent technology is often siloed, with a lack of understanding as to how to integrate it into a wider, holistic talent strategy.

While major tech players are now attempting to bridge this gap through partnerships – Microsoft Viva’s numerous integrations – and buyouts – Workday purchased employee feedback software Peakon in 2021 – the challenge remains.

There’s also the issue of digital overload. A report by HR technology provider Personio found that more than a third (37%) of employees said they used too many different digital tools at work, with an average of six different tools per team for people-related insights and tasks. 

This leads to poor adoption from users, and can even slow down processes that it’s supposed to speed up. A quarter of HR professionals surveyed by Personio said that the number of systems used is frustrating employees and unnecessarily slowing down work.

Why talent technology implementations fail

So why do talent technology projects fail? HR technology media platform UNLEASH surveyed 700 talent leaders responsible for a combined $3bn technology budget about the challenges that derail implementations. It found that 40% of respondents reported three or more problems that directly impacted the success of a project, with only 16% believing that their projects were successful.

The three most common challenges encountered by organisations were users not being ready for the functionality, data not being clean enough and poor change management.

Expansive scope in technology projects leads to better outcomes according to's 'Why HR projects fail' report

Significantly, the scale and cost of implementing new technology often ran away from leaders. Less than a quarter (22%) believed that talent technology projects adhered to budgeted costs, with even fewer (19%) managing to keep projects to allotted timelines. With such a poor start, it’s not a surprise that many projects fail to fulfil their objectives.

Changing the narrative

In order to improve the chances of technology implementation succeeding, organisations need to change the narrative around talent technology.

Firstly, technology is no longer simply about automating processes and talent acquisition systems, but is rather a tool to transform and grow business. This means that talent technology isn’t about one-off implementation, but rather forms part of an approach to maximising the potential of your talent strategy.

Understanding this leads us to understand that simply launching a new piece of technology isn’t enough to ensure success. Far too many organisations only get to grips with new technology implementation at the point of actual launch, without considering, consulting and getting buy-in from end users in the procurement stage.

Taking a step back and actually involving users in the process of choosing technology, while focusing on the desired outcomes of the technology allows organisations to achieve two things: a clear goal with expected return on investment, rather than muddied thinking brought about by shiny new features; and a focus on employee experience that speeds adoption and actually makes a process easier.

Expert commentary

Josh Bersin
Author and HR thought leader

The role of technology in talent acquisition

Technology plays a vital role in talent acquisition and recruitment. Today, as employees move more dynamically than ever, companies need intelligent systems for sourcing, advertising, marketing, assessment, and ongoing candidate communications. Tools like intelligent chatbots, skills-based job recommendations, video interviews, and AI-enabled assessment are common. So there are hundreds of tools to consider.

Unfortunately, however, most recruitment teams have a stack of older systems. The core tool of recruitment, the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), is more than 30 years old in design. Originally designed as a place to store, search, and index job applications, these systems have become critical but legacy in most organisations. How do you add new tools around these systems to scale?

Our research shows that highly successful companies are always upgrading and experimenting with new technology. AI, which started as an interesting idea, can now match job seekers to roles by skill, identify possible internal candidates, and even assess the probability a candidate will succeed. Many leading companies now let job seekers just “apply” for any job, and the systems decide which role or skill may fit them best. Once a candidate expresses interest, these tools can automatically feed the more information, schedule an interview, and eventually provide onboarding uniquely designed for that job.

We also see an explosion of new tools we call Talent Intelligence to scan millions of possible job seekers and help make decisions on non-traditional candidates, diverse populations, and adjacent jobs to help fill positions. As jobs change more rapidly than ever, these systems can assess the true “skills” needed in a job and then help recruiters find candidates with greater precision than ever before. These tools, which are the latest evolution in this market, amass data from billions of job seekers and use AI to match people to jobs in ways we never imagined.

While all these tools are important, our newest research still finds that recruiters are perhaps the most important role of all. As we looked at the use and prevalence of technology in our new research, we found that “Human-Centered Recruiting” is still the biggest factor in success. In other words, no matter what technology you adopt, it’s the human side that really makes a difference. So these tools, while magnificent in many ways, are still part of a very “human-centered” process that always comes down to culture, fit, and match with the team.

There’s no question that technology will always play a major role in recruiting, workforce planning, and long term organisational design. But as you arm up and upgrade your tool set (which is a never-ending process), make sure you train and talk with your recruiters too. They, in the end, are still the most important tool you have.

Secondly, organisations need to plan for ongoing adoption of the technology, with a long-term change management programme in place to ensure that users continue to update their skills and develop new case uses for the chosen platform.

One way of doing this is to incentivise employees to use and train on new technology platforms, whether through providing on the spot bonuses, extra time off or gifts and merchandising. According to PwC’s 2022 HR Tech Survey, this is one of the most effective ways of driving technology adoption, with an 85% success rate amongst companies that used this method.

Other options include optimising the technology for mobile use to meet employee demand for anytime, anywhere work, introducing elements of gamification to drive engagement and – more controversially – providing penalties for non-usage.

Thirdly, businesses need to invest in technology for the longterm, providing a roadmap and iterative methodology to continually drive return on investment. This might be about assessing technology partners across multiple dimensions, including ongoing support and training. The aim is to avoid costly relaunches or switching providers as the strategic needs of your business change by ensuring that your technology partner – and the training you provide – flexes with your new requirements.

The successful adoption of talent technology is about meticulous planning, ongoing training and constant evolution – much like any other key business process. Technology isn’t there to simply automate processes, it’s there to help organisations transform and grow. Launching some technology and then simply hoping it – or the people using it – work things out by themselves isn’t going to lead to success.

Expert commentary

Annie Hammer
Head of Technology Advisory, Americas, AMS

How to maximise technological adoption and avoid buyer’s remorse

There is a lot of technology on the market at the moment, which is busy and confusing. I’ve seen plenty of organisations get seduced by shiny product demos without understanding the core requirement and business outcomes you’re trying to drive.

To combat this, I recommend that businesses develop 3-4 scenarios that are specific to their organisation and ask tech providers to show how these scenarios are played out within their tools. It helps to bring up practical things that demos don’t show.

Then, it’s about avoiding tools with single use cases or duplication. A lot of times I’ll work with organisations that say ‘I need a CRM, or a chatbot, or a video interview tool’. That might be what you need, but you also need to understand the broader ecosystem and components within that. You might already have a tool that can provide some of the functionality you need, or you might need another tool that provides a wider use. It’s about looking at the broader picture and understanding the specific scenarios you need to accomplish with the tool specific to your business, rather than a general technological capability point of view.

There are several practical steps you can take when implementing new technology. First, involve end users in the selection process. Even if the ultimate decision lies with a manager, get forward-thinking users onboard to give their viewpoint and begin engaging with the technology. It can form part of a reward or development plan and helps socialise the technology amongst employees.

Let manager level employees be involved in localisation and specific business unit or regional needs. Once you’ve selected the tool, they can be involved in the implementation and design of the process.

When it comes to launch, get your team to feedback on the build in stages, rather than on completion. This allows HRIT to build and show functionality, with feedback coming from users who preview the technology. In addition, this builds in checkpoints along the way and reduces testing issues nearer launch.

You also need to plan for post-launch training and adoption. What’s the plan for 30 days post-launch? What’s the plan for six months? Or two years?

Having someone accountable for the evolution of technology is key, but make sure they are in place from the start so they avoid feeling overwhelmed by launch feedback. On that note, have a ‘fast-follow’ list of tasks that aren’t crucial for launch but need to be completed within three months. This allows for ongoing testing and development of the technology.

Finally, think about providing a platform for user voice, where end users can log issues or feedback. Add a mechanism for users to upvote issues, so that way you can prioritise the changes that need to be made based on real-time feedback.

So much new technology has been brought into the market in the past 18 months that soon we’ll see many organisations relaunching or iterating on technology that isn’t providing the required return on investment. Following some of these pre and post-launch processes will help to minimise future challenges.

If you have any questions regarding your tech and digital capabilities