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Two studies released this week show that US employers have more robust hiring plans this year compared to last year. CareerBuilder’s annual forecast, a survey of over 800 hiring managers and HR professionals, found that 44 percent of companies are hiring for full-time roles in 2018, up four percent from 2017. Additionally, Roy Maurer of SHRM notes that the ManpowerGroup’s latest employment forecast has the strongest Q1 hiring outlook since 2001.
The CareerBuilder survey found that employers in the western states (49 percent) and the northeast corridor (47 percent) are the most likely to be hiring at the moment, while also outlining some key trends that appear likely to shape talent acquisition in the new year. One of those trends is the movement to get in early with talent, as 64 percent of companies that are hiring will be looking to add recent college graduates to their ranks. Almost a quarter of them will be looking internationally to fill positions, although this strategy may be complicated by the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten immigration controls and reduce the use of skilled worker visas like the H-1B. Perhaps most notably, 30 percent of companies say they plan on increasing compensation for new employees by five percent or more and 36 percent intend to do so for current staff.
The survey also pointed to challenges employers are having in filling openings, with 58 percent reporting that they’ve had jobs open for longer than 12 weeks and 66 percent saying they plan on hiring candidates who do not have all of the skills they need and filling any gaps through training.
China has begun issuing a new form of fast-track, extended-stay visa for recipients of its “Certificate for Foreign High-end Talent,” the South China Morning Post reported last Thursday. The five- and ten-year multiple-entry visas are free, can be processed in as little as one day, and are also available to the spouses and children of certified “high-end” foreign talent. This marks a noteworthy departure from the country’s otherwise very tight controls on immigration and foreign workers:
According to government guidelines, high-end foreigners also refer to, among others, Nobel Prize winners, chief or deputy editors in Chinese state media, foreign coaches and players in national and provincial sports teams, postdoctoral students from world-class universities outside China, and foreigners who earn at least six times the average annual wage in China. The average annual income in Beijing in 2016 was 92,477 yuan (US$14,220), according to official statistics.
The visas are part of a top-down drive to make China a more attractive place to work and stay. In February 2016, the central government relaxed the country’s green card rules, extending eligibility for permanent residency to foreigners working in broader fields than just government departments or laboratories involved in “key national projects”.
When it comes to the threat or promise of automation, experts are divided as to whether AI and robotics will eliminate jobs en masse or merely automate rote tasks and free up more of workers’ time for innovation and creativity. McKinsey has put out some interesting research throughout the year in which they attempt to forecast the impact of these new technologies on the workforce. In January, they released the attention-grabbing headline finding that half of the work currently performed by humans could be automated with already-existing technology. Though fewer than 5 percent of jobs can be automated entirely, their research found, most jobs could have at least one third of their component tasks automated today.
In an update to that work published this week, McKinsey takes a closer look at the various factors that will drive automation in the coming decades—such as technical feasibility, cost of deployment, and labor market considerations—and concludes that “between almost zero and 30 percent of the hours worked globally could be automated by 2030, depending on the speed of adoption.” The effects will not, however, be evenly distributed among occupations:
Activities most susceptible to automation include physical ones in predictable environments, such as operating machinery and preparing fast food. Collecting and processing data are two other categories of activities that increasingly can be done better and faster with machines. This could displace large amounts of labor—for instance, in mortgage origination, paralegal work, accounting, and back-office transaction processing. … Automation will have a lesser effect on jobs that involve managing people, applying expertise, and social interactions, where machines are unable to match human performance for now.
Earlier this month, and just in time for the winter holiday season, Spotify rolled out a new paid leave feature that allows employees to swap their paid public holidays for other important days of their own choosing. The Sweden-headquartered online music, podcast, and video streaming company’s flexible public holidays policy is presented as a way for employees to “take the holidays that matter to them”:
They can choose to work on a day that is a public holiday in the country they work in, and swap it for another work day instead. This means they can be off of work on a day that fits their observations or beliefs better. For example, someone who works in a country where Christmas is a public holiday, can now choose to work on Christmas Day and switch it for a day off on another date that is important for them to celebrate. Yom Kippur? Diwali? International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia? It’s their day, their choice.
Flexible holiday policies like these are rare, however: According to an employer survey from SHRM last year, only 18 percent of employers allow their full-time employees to swap holidays, and only 12 percent let their part-time employees do so. Evren Esen, director of workforce analytics at SHRM, explained at the time that this low adoption rate reflected the fact that this practice is difficult to manage in many business contexts: “If a manufacturing plant is closed on Christmas,” Esen said, “it is impossible to swap Christmas with Ramadan.”
For the first time since it began keeping records in 2006, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap report registered a decline this year in gender parity around the globe. The report, which uses data from the WEF’s own surveys and from other major global organizations, measures parity along a series of metrics including political empowerment, economic participation, education, and health. Last year’s report warned that the economic gap between men and women was widening, even as overall parity was improving. This year, it finds, the economic gap is even worse, and at the current rate of progress is projected to persist for another two centuries:
At the current rate of progress, the global gender gap will take 100 years to close, compared to 83 last year. The workplace gender gap will now not be closed for 217 years, the report estimates. But with various studies linking gender parity to better economic performance, a number of countries are bucking the dismal global trend: over one-half of all 144 countries measured this year have seen their score improve in the past 12 months.
“We are moving from the era of capitalism into the era of talentism. Competitiveness on a national and on a business level will be decided more than ever before by the innovative capacity of a country or a company. Those will succeed best, who understand to integrate women as an important force into their talent pool,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum.
The top-scoring countries for gender parity across all measures are Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda, and Sweden. Canada is ranked at #16 and the US at #49, a four-place decline from last year. The WEF highlights Canada and France (#11 as among the countries that have made significant gains in gender parity in the past year. However, a high place on the list doesn’t mean that a country is closing all of its gender gaps, and the economic one is proving the most stubbornly difficult to close.
As the Trump administration continues to clamp down on opportunities for skilled foreign workers, their neighbors to the north have moved in the other direction. The Canadian government is actively opening its doors to international talent as the country is increasingly becoming a haven for tech innovation, and these efforts are beginning to bear fruit.
Canada has long been an easier option for immigrants if they are unable to get into the United States, but was widely considered the clear-cut second choice. The current US administration’s plans to tighten the borders, including review of the H1-B visa program and halting adoption of the International Entrepreneur Rule, along with its much more restrictive posture toward immigration in general, have started shifting that assumption.
In response to Canada’s pitch to foreign firms and talent, some startups from the US and other countries are beginning to migrate to Canada, and organizations like Toronto-based Extreme Venture are even reaching out to these companies to help them make the move, the Wall Street Journal reported last week:
One taker was fulfil.io, a cloud-based software platform that aids companies in their supply-chain operations. Two of the company’s founders decided to come to Canada in May from their native India after they had to leave the U.S. when their H1-B visas expired and renewal proved difficult. They closed their first sales deal a month later. “Canada looks like the right place to grow,” said one, Sharoon Thomas, fulfil.io CEO. “I’m just surprised that we didn’t think of it first.”
For workers, the pull of a Facebook or Google paycheck and the Silicon Valley locale is still hard to beat, but Canadian government officials, tech leaders, and venture capitalists are making a concerted effort to court American tech talent.
France’s newly elected president Emmanuel Macron is proposing a new tech visa that would enable French tech companies to more easily hire talent from abroad, as well as to encourage entrepreneurs to start businesses there. The plan is clearly designed to convince startups that France is an easier place to hire from the globalized tech workforce than the US or UK, both of which have grown increasingly hostile toward immigration, John Detrixhe reports at Quartz:
The French process appears “significantly” simpler than in the US, which doesn’t have a dedicated visa for tech workers, according to Kristie De Pena, senior immigration council at the Niskanen Center, a think tank. … In the UK, meanwhile, it’s been a year since the vote to leave the EU, and future rules on the rights of EU immigrants after Britain quits the bloc are far from finalized. Nearly half of the UK’s highly skilled workers from elsewhere in the EU are considering leaving in the next five years, according to a survey by Deloitte. Still, the UK has a substantial head-start on other European hubs in the capital-raising game, a crucial consideration for startup founders.
In this regard, Macron’s scheme is similar to what Canada is doing in pitching itself as a friendlier destination for global talent. In contrast to the nativist trend in US and UK politics, leaders like Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are doubling down on globalization—and at least in Trudeau’s case, diversity—as engines of economic growth.
At the same time Macron is pushing tech visas, the world’s largest tech incubator opened this week in Paris. The 34,000 square-meter campus, called “Station F,” was built out of a converted railway depot and is designed to accommodate over 1,000 startups, its director Roxanne Varza tells João Medeiros at Wired: