Third World War begins Now – Recruitment Agencies Mercenaries or Allies?



Dramatic? Possibly but the scale of what the world faces over the next few years is beyond anything we have ever experienced in our history and the consequences for the global War-on-Talent are massive. Read on and form your own opinion.


In recent months there have been a number of reports released which collectively reveal how the global employment world is about to go through a seismic shift. It may seem odd when we have high levels of unemployment in most of the major industrial nations but there is a global shortage of skilled workers.


Recent research by Accenture Management Consulting indicates that business leaders believe access to appropriately skilled workers is essential for economic recovery but worryingly more than 50% say it is difficult to recruit entry level workers with the desired skills.


Alarmingly Accenture’s Turning the Tide: How Europe can Rebuild Skills and Generate Growth points to the issue continuing as businesses cut back on training despite acknowledging their own needs for staff. As demographics start to impact our workforces demand for entry level workers is about to accelerate.


According to the McKinsey Global Institute’s report,“Preparing for a New Era of Work.” in the United States, the gap between the number of people graduating from college and the number of college graduates businesses require will be 1.6 million graduates by 2020.


In Europe a shortage of 23 million college-educated workers will exist by 2020. Whilst new IMF paper – “Chronicle of a Decline Foretold: Has China Reached the Lewis Turning Point?”states that by, 2030 China will have a total workforce shortage of almost 140 million workers. “This will have far-reaching implications for both China and the rest of the world,” said the IMF.


China cannot avert their demographic cliff, as a result of the effects of low fertility rates – and the one child policy. It will take them over fifty years to turn it round. Even now the Chinese battle for our talented youngsters is starting.


During a recent open day I attended at one of the UK’s top universities for fashion design, the University of Westminster, the head of department stated that China was rapidly becoming the number one destination for many of his students with the Chinese paying good money to attract his top talent.


The IMF study found that—thanks to global competition, changing demographics and persistent “geographic mismatches” between the supply of workers and the demand for them—a stark skills shortage is emerging worldwide.


When you consider that 140 million is the combined population on the UK and Germany you don’t need to be a genius to realise that some of these shortages have strategic implications for nations.
Where are the shortages going to be most acute?


A review by Adzuna which was summarised in the  Daily Telegraph , at the end of last year pointed to IT, Healthcare and engineering as being the sectors in highest demand. The boom in Oil and Gas has been one that is globally overheating too with well publicised shortages there too. With the number of new recruits to these industries showing no signs of exceeding short term demands its clear the role for niche recruitment agencies operating in the sectors is set to continue.


Will recruitment agencies choose to exploit this market and sell their skills to the highest bidder or will they align themselves with the major global corporate players who will need their support and secure lucrative corporate contracts. It is going to be interesting to watch.



For me the the critical battle ground will be Social Media. The ‘millennial’ generation are the ones where the skill shortage will be most acute and these are the most social media savvy generation. Win this battle recruiters you win the war and your prosperity is assured. Lose it and you will become as current as the dodo. The choice as they say is yours.



In next week’s blog I will be looking at ways the industrialised nations can respond to the Global War-on-Talent.

3 thoughts on “Third World War begins Now – Recruitment Agencies Mercenaries or Allies?”

  1. Great article Ian, really well written and you have a great tone of voice. I’m in Australia and have come across your blog whilst researching the recruitment/employment sector. I am looking into opening a recruitment company as a franchise to a national provider and trying to establish which sectors to target. Thnx, Greg M>

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