GALA Begins to Survey the Global Talent Gap
By: Joint National Committee for Languages & National Council for Languages and International Studies-
As leaders in the language industry, we all work with “global talent” on a daily basis, and our customers increasingly demand global skills. However, the operating definition of this talent has typically been more along the lines of “we know it when we see it.” The customers of the language industry – indeed, major global companies worldwide – claim that there is now a “global talent gap.” Through its CRISP program, GALA organized the Global Talent Program to provide actionable, operational definitions to “global talent,” which will allow the industry and its clients to describe what is needed, and to more effectively examine whether there is, in fact, a gap in global skills in the labor market.
There have been many assertions that industry needs internationally capable employees – those with global competence, defined as foreign language and intercultural skills along with other specialized, professional qualifications. The Global Talent Program recently piloted a preliminary questionnaire among its 400+ members with a total of 18 respondents. The goal of the questionnaire was to prepare for a major survey across the nearly 40,000 GALA contacts worldwide. Sabine Rioufol of eBay and I developed the questions, which were run over a two-week period.
Broadly speaking, the questionnaire met its intended aims. Among the initial findings from the pilot is that our operating definition of global talent should be language/translation skills PLUS at least one of the following: business skills, client-side skills, sales skills, localization skills, or engineering/technology skills. Skill gaps were already readily identifiable among our respondents, in particular in localization, translation, sales, project management, engineering, and terminology management. This preliminary questionnaire was a small and self-selected sample, but by vetting the questions this way, the Global Talent Program task force is now able to proceed to the next step – a major survey of the definition of and requirements for Global Talent.
The GTP expects to launch the survey this summer. In addition GALA is working in collaboration with Michigan State University and GALA member Brigham Young University to extend the reach of the survey to companies in many business sectors in the U.S. And, in collaboration with the British Academy, GALA plans to release the same survey to companies in the U.K.
Dr. William P. Rivers is the Executive Director of the Joint National Committee for Languages. He has 20 years’ experience in culture and language for economic development and national security, with expertise in research, assessment, program evaluation, and policy development and advocacy. He chairs ASTM Technical Committee F43, Language Services and Products and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 232, Training in the Informal Sector.