2019 Global Talent Auto Industry Benchmark Survey – MSI Research

Like many U.S. manufacturers today, the automotive industry faces a massive talent shortage, largely due to technology. As Industry 4.0 gathers steam, the demand for traditional assembly line skills has declined, replaced by a fast-growing demand for more tech-savvy talent.

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As many know, these workers are already in short supply – in virtually all other manufacturing sectors, as well as the tech industry – although the automotive industry is among the hardest hit.

“This is because it’s so rapidly changing,” says MSI president Eric Egnet. “Technologies like autonomous robots, the Internet of things, artificial intelligence, and Blockchain are creating whole new possibilities to dramatically optimize the lifecycle, from production to sale. These include the ability to improve and streamline vehicle quality and production, orchestrate frictionless supply chain management, and enable fraud-free vehicle distribution.”

A recent survey by MSI and GlobalAutoIndustry.com bears this out, and provides additional details on the industry’s challenges, priorities, and needs around talent acquisition and retention. (For a snapshot of survey findings, please see the infographic above.)

For example, 100 percent of those surveyed — a cross section of nearly two dozen automotive companies — agreed that talent mobilization is becoming more of a necessity, given these skills shortages. Most of those responding also said that their companies maintain a prospective employee talent pool to readily meet future needs.

In some instances, maintaining these pools consists of nurturing relationships with external candidates, who can then be brought in when needed. In others, it can mean working with existing employees to help them develop the appropriate competencies, skills, and cultural/strategic alignment, so they’re ready to roll in the not-too-distant future.

With regard to talent mobilization, the primary drivers, according to the survey, are business needs, followed by technical skills and leadership development. For nearly all respondents, mobilizing talent was considered highly critical or somewhat critical to their company’s future.

The survey also showed that for some respondents, the ability to transition skills across business functions globally was also important. And for more than half, the highest priority elements of their mobility programs are business goals. Nearly one-third also considered cost the highest priority.

Results were mixed with regard to a query on mobility policies. When asked if they thought these policies were competitive enough to attract and retain top talent; only half of respondents said yes. This, perhaps, was due to the fact that companies could be doing more in this area. Also, only slightly more than half said that their organizations incorporated talent management practices (e.g., candidate assessment and executive coaching) into their mobility programs.

However, such practices can be of great benefit. According to another recent survey (from McKinsey), there’s a significant relationship between talent management — when done well — and organizational performance. McKinsey also noted that “organizations with effective talent-management programs have a better chance than other companies of outperforming competitors and, among publicly owned companies, are likelier to outpace their peers’ returns to shareholders.”

Other survey findings included the following:

• Global mobility programs are compliant more often than not (including business travelers, immigration, taxes, and policy).
• Companies may or may not take a strategic approach to moving talent between roles on a global basis (about 60 percent of participants said they did).
• Only a small percentage of respondents (22 percent) had access to talent mobility program analytics (the rest either said no or weren’t sure). Of those that did, more than half found them either “very helpful” or “useful.”
• Although companies often reach out to external service providers for services like tax and immigration, they rarely do so for talent acquisition.
• About 20 percent of respondents said their companies had more than 500 moves per year. Approximately 13 percent had 251-500 moves, while 18 percent had between 50-250 moves and 50 percent had 50 or fewer moves.
• The most common destination for talent is EMEA, followed by North America and South America.

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