In today’s business environment, what defines highly desirable talent is constantly evolving. With the blinding fast advancement in technology and innovation, more difficult and complex skillsets become necessary. As such, demand for these kinds of talent is far outstripping our ability to develop them.

This has resulted in a rather extreme shortage of workers with the desired skillset. Study after study has shown the biggest concern for business execs right now is sourcing enough of the right talent to survive an era of disruption. So the big question now is: Should companies build their workforce up or buy in new talent?

Building a workforce requires preparing the people a company has now for the future, giving and nurturing within them the skills they need to succeed. On the other hand, buying a workforce involves sourcing through a variety of techniques in order to find individuals with the required talents your business needs to function optimally.

There are a few limitations to both of these methods. For example, if the market doesn’t support hiring, upskilling may be the only option for some employers. Giving the right internal candidates the right opportunities and greater challenges can help boost employee engagements and increase retention. However, the company itself has to find ways to expose these candidates to new knowledge for them to learn and develop.

If upskilling isn’t possible, external hires may be the right choice, but they can be costly and difficult to find. For many employers, time to hire can become extended when the market is tight. Additionally, internal morale and motivation might get damage if the company decides to look outside rather than promoting from within.

Each business must decide which strategy will work the best. Sometimes individual departments apply different strategies according to their current needs.


Building a culture with deliberate growth and clear learning opportunities for employees is important for several reasons. For one, such culture can help keep employees satisfied at work and improve retention. It can also be very cost-effective if your current employees can be trained and equipped with new skills to fill necessary roles.

Internal candidates will also likely have been working under the company for some time. This means that they are used to the work culture there and have a clear idea of what the company’s vision and goals are. This not only serves as a motivating factor, it also makes the candidate’s upskilling process easier, as they already know as to where the company wishes to go.


Sometimes, businesses must ask themselves if they can afford to wait. If they cannot, then buying talent may be the more suitable option over building it. While upskilling has many benefits, sometimes bringing in new ideas and perspectives can help resolve any problems a company may be facing.

When an employer simply doesn’t have the resources to upskill, companies can minimise fallout from current staff. As stated previously, sourcing talent from outside the company can lead to internal conflict. Companies should explain to existing staff why they are looking for external talent.

Overall, HR leaders should keep both strategies in mind. Having a balanced investment in both strategies as and when appropriate will not only make the company more flexible, but also prepare it to handle any prospective changes or transformations that take place in the future.


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