A Look at the Talent Horizon for 2024: More Change and More Solutions

By now, employers and talent professionals are seasoned veterans of the turbulent labor market we have experienced for several years.

It bears repeating that the seeds of disruption were planted long before COVID — the pandemic simply provided the fertile ground where they accelerated. Therefore, it should be no surprise that these historic shifts will continue into 2024 and beyond.

Still, there are lessons to learn and trends to anticipate. Here is a survey of talent forecasts for the new year, and how TalentFirst is addressing them:

AI Remains at the Top of the List

Writing in Forbes, Sander van ‘t Noordende, CEO of talent company Randstad, says that while artificial intelligence went mainstream in 2023, it will continue to disrupt work in ways that can’t yet be imagined. This will bring benefits as well as challenges, but “increasing the use of AI to empower workers may help drive productivity and efficiency, and help to fill hard to hire-for-roles, while increasing innovation.”

On the recruiting front, Korn Ferry notes AI has a lot to offer, such as speeding up processes, writing job descriptions, even assessing candidates. But the global consulting firm notes some risks. One is accuracy: “73% of leaders told us they’ll keep a close eye on their tech for signs of security issues or algorithmic bias.” Another risk is losing the human touch in talent management.

Similar concerns were raised by analysts at Gartner. In the consulting firm’s examination of macro trends in technology for 2024, analysts predict greater regulation for the use of AI. “The hype surrounding generative AI is also causing a shift in how organizations are looking at the ethics of AI as a whole. The regulatory uncertainty of 2023 will likely persist and intensify in 2024 as more laws are enforced.”

TalentFirst equips West Michigan employers with tools and insights on these topics, including our Talent Solutions Playbook (PDF) and our interactive Future of Work report, through the community of practice of our HR Council, and events like our Talent Solutions Series. At the March session of the Talent Solutions Series, which focused on HR technology, Michelle Fontana, a managing director at EY, advised talent professionals that the goal of any technology — including AI — should be to help human teams perform better.

A Continued Focus on Skills

Finding qualified candidates remains a challenge for employers of every size. In its report on 5 Workforce Talent Trends for 2024, talent management solutions company ADP says employers can bridge the skills gap by both upskilling their existing workforce and looking for the right skills when hiring.

“Ongoing skills development for existing employees can train workers for crossover and multifunctional roles. Another possibility is for talent professionals to shift their focus away from identifying the perfect skills match to identifying transferable skills. This requires a new approach to evaluation and may even unlock access to candidates that have been previously overlooked.”

Korn Ferry sees the emphasis on skills, rather than past employment, as a win for diversity, equity and inclusion: “We expect businesses to focus on the skills they need to bring on and develop now. This will help them align to the long-term strategic direction of the organization. That includes bringing in interim hires who can upskill teams—and allowing businesses to try new roles on for size before hiring into them permanently.”

Our Talent Solutions Playbook (PDF) devotes an entire chapter to KPIs, tactics and resources that employers can use to upskill their workforces. Our Talent Solutions Series has tackled such topics as upskilling, expanding talent pipelines, and onboarding and career pathways.

The need for skilled talent makes it imperative that employers embrace diverse talent pools. Our Inclusive Leadership Development events promote strategies to do so by creating inclusive environments.

Systemic Change, Practical Solutions

TalentFirst also is driving systemic change to elevate the skills of the workforce. This year we launched The Michigan Center for Adult College Success to support the state’s goal of increasing the number of adults obtaining postsecondary credentials.

And our new West Michigan Education-to-Employment Partnership brings together employers, education and training providers, and community organizations to help grow and retain skilled talent in our region. The objective is to make it easier for more graduates to find promising career paths in West Michigan, so they stay to live and work here.

TalentFirst initiatives also promote the quality and quantity of our workforce by supporting improvements in child care, early literacy and K-12 education, labor force participation, adult basic education.

Whatever the future brings, TalentFirst will remain responsive the needs of our region’s employers as a collective, collaborative investment in the prosperity of West Michigan and all who live and work here.

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