ghostly keyboard handsResearch and benchmarking firm APQC has released its newest study “Technical Management: Sourcing, Developing, and Retaining Technical Talent,” to identify those best practices used by recognized leaders in recruiting and retaining scientific, technological, engineering, and mathematical (STEM) talent. An earlier APQC study revealed that 80 percent of employers find it difficult to very difficult to recruit and retain candidates with scientific skills and 65 percent said it is difficult to very difficult to recruit and retain workers with engineering skills.

“It is no secret that the world is experiencing a shortage of technical workers. Across the globe, STEM jobs are growing as a percent of total jobs, such as in the U.S., where one-third of the fastest-growing job categories are in STEM fields. In addition, demographic trends point toward increasing numbers of retiring workers, who will take with them their knowledge and expertise and leave behind a smaller pool of technical talent,” said Elissa Tucker, HCM knowledge specialist for APQC.

“Through this research we identify what some leading organizations are doing to find, manage, and keep these key employees.” The organizations examined for the study include Caterpillar, Inc., General Mills, Inc., IBM Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. Space Systems Company, and Schlumberger Ltd.

The 19 talent management best practices uncovered during the study, organized by phase of the employee lifecycle, include:

Establishing Governance for Technical Talent Management:

  • Designating singular position or teams to oversee solely the management of technical talent.
  • Lead technical talent management positions only filled by employees with relevant technical skills.
  •  Technical talent management strategy linked with overall business strategy through efficient workforce planning.
  • Workforce diversity initiatives implemented into technical talent management strategy.

Recruiting Technical Talent:

  • Develop a corporate brand that attracts technical workers.
  • Develop internship programs and recruiting relationships as talent sources.
  •  Rely on technology as the primary means of recruiting technical talent.
  • Actively participate in program encouraging students to pursue technical careers.

Managing Technical Talent Performance:

  • Assess worker performance through the use of competency models.
  • Base conversations on performance with technical employees in facts and data.

Managing Technical Careers:

  • Offer flexible career tracks.
  • Provide technology-based tools for career planning.

Developing Technical Talent:

  • Publicize the recognition of high-performance employees.
  • Retain technical employees by offering development and advancement opportunities.
  • Offer flexible work options.

Transferring Technical Knowledge:

  • Offer multiple avenues for the exchange of ideas between workers.

Evaluating the Technical Talent Management Program:

  • Improve technical talent management through decisions relying on factual data.


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