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Our Blog

2.11.14 It’s time to address the talent gap, not sweep it under the rug

In the incubation industry, we spend a lot of time talking about deal flow, funding, market size, training support and space (after all, we are landlords too). Over the past two days at the NBIA Annual Summit for Advanced Incubation Professionals, we’ve been talking about talent and how our failure to collectively address the growing talent gap puts our ability to create sustainable, wealth-creating companies at risk.

So what do we do?

Overwhelmingly, current best practices suggest the following:

Start early.

It is never to early to encourage innovative and entrepreneurial thinking in our young people. Additionally, expansion of technical training and STEM education is critical. Increasingly, programs to teach kids to code, create “first” businesses, become engaged in science and math projects, and make things like robots and toys created on 3D printers are popping up in communities across the country. The incubation industry must find ways to tap into that burgeoning talent and expose the next generation of wealth creators to the vast opportunities they must exploit or create.

Fully integrate design thinking and entrepreneurial culture into higher ed.

By and large, higher education continues to deliver innovation and entrepreneurship as sidecar electives, rather than imbedded elements of all degree programs. In the ever-evolving 21st-century economy, the U.S. workforce is increasingly being expected to innovate, iterate and adapt to changing circumstances. Those expectations are not limited to business owners and technologists. Indeed – accountants, human resource professionals, artists, architects, nurses, and retail associates (among others) will all be expected to exhibit these characteristics in the workplace.

Create place and spaces.

Offices and cubicles are dead. Sprawling homesteads are of little interest to this next generation. They want to work in places that are colorful, creative, interactive and engaging. They want to live in places that are walkable, safe, friendly and green. So, we better get with it!! Third spaces are the places they want. Co-working, coffee shops, wine bars. Spaces equipped with Wi-Fi and filled with people are the order of the day. To attract and retain this young, creative talent, our communities have to be interesting and dense and diverse. Housing has to be imbedded into a fabric where work and play live in harmony and the rich differences of people are acknowledged and celebrated.

Invest time and resources.

A two-way exchange of expertise and passion is critical. Three generations are active in the workforce. We have to unleash the magic of 75 years worth of attempts and failures, gains and loss, joy and pain. We must come together and invest in one another to create a new future where we all live in the satisfaction of a promise kept and a multitude of opportunities fulfilled.

If we do these things consistently and with purpose and intent, the “talent gap” over which we fret greatly today will be filled and the resulting outcomes will exceed our wildest expectations.