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Talent Acquisition Teams Lack Resources for Strategic Planning

The Josh Bersin Company, the world’s most trusted human capital advisory firm, working with global talent solutions business AMS, has published research showing that talent acquisition is at a crossroads. Despite being asked to focus on finding skilled workers, talent acquisition teams feel disconnected from helping address company strategy and are being forced to only advise on ways of reducing costs.  

The results emerge from a sentiment-based research project, the latest in the Berson ongoing global Talent Climate research initiative, created in collaboration with AMS, which draws on half a million hire-related data points of global HR and recruitment records.  

The main findings of the report show that while skills shortages remain the top issue for talent acquisition leaders (60%), these leaders face tremendous pressure to improve the efficiency of recruiting processes (58%). For example, talent acquisition practitioners feel they are perceived as “order-takers” and their contribution is insufficiently recognized. Despite 55% of companies viewing talent acquisition specialists as an integral part of the business, only 32% of leaders feel they serve as a truly strategic partner to their organization, the analysis shows.  

The research finds a surprisingly low level of maturity in workforce planning, with 42% of companies lacking a workforce plan and 40% of HR leaders stating that their business is not ready to take a strategic approach to hiring.  

Another critical topic, skills-based hiring, is beginning to lose its luster, with almost 70% of companies stating that “skills-based hiring is too difficult for us to implement right now.” The reason for this is not a lack of technologies, researchers point out, but rather a lack of clarity in how to build a skills program. 

Talent acquisition leaders also struggle with recruiting skills, with 42% admitting their recruiters need more training. As AI expands throughout talent acquisition, The Josh Bersin Company is advising CHROs that the reskilling of recruiters is essential. This is a challenge as 45% of HR leaders have been told to prioritize cost-cutting over strategic talent acquisition.  

AI is a huge topic within HR, but it appears to have a long way to go until it becomes widely adopted in talent acquisition. Despite the well-documented positive impact of AI on the delivery of world-class talent acquisition programs through enhanced efficiency and agility, respondents rank AI as less of a priority than increasing the efficiency of the talent acquisition team and reducing costs.  

Sector dynamics appear to influence these trends. Pharma stands out with 67% citing skills shortages as a top concern, which may reflect the specialized nature of roles in this sector and the critical need for specific expertise. Comparatively lower percentages in digital and tech (44%) and defense and engineering (45%) indicate that while skills scarcity is significant, it is less acute in these industries.  

Overall, respondents indicate a range of organizational and operational challenges in transitioning to a more strategic position. The most prominent barrier may be the dynamic nature of business priorities, which complicates strategic talent acquisition planning.  

Finally, the professional services sector (38%) ranked the impact of AI and automation among its top three disruptive forces. This industry is at a critical point of technological integration that will profoundly transform service delivery models and talent utilization strategies.  

“These findings further emphasize the need for closer alignment and integration of TA teams with broader organizational strategy discussions,” says Josh Bersin, global industry analyst and CEO of The Josh Bersin Company. “TA’s lack of inclusion in strategic discussion and a seemingly widespread absence of a clear workforce plan are significant obstacles that prevent the TA team from aligning its efforts with long-term business plans.”  

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