Curated Intel from the Talent Tech Industry
January 3-8, 2022:
• Start Smart – a new podcast that focuses entirely on TA research, analysis & data;
• The crux of the talent shortfall – Older workers are leading the COVID-Era jobs exodus;
• Professional network Contra secures $30M in additional funding;
• North American startup funding scaled unprecedented heights in 2021, up 92% from 2020;
• What labor shortages can lead to – John Deere’s self-driving tractor spurs debate on AI in farming.
• An Outside-the-Box Investment in TA Technology: The TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management. The best way to ensure your customers onboard your products effectively, delivering the performance improvements they want and the quality reputation you deserve.
Start Smart – A new podcast focuses entirely on TA research, analysis & data
In a talent market that is more competitive and less understood than any other time in history, it’s the facts that matter. And, Start Smart is the podcast that delivers the facts on the key issues and opportunities facing Talent Acquisition & Human Resource professionals. There are lots of HR and recruiting podcasts that focus on interviews and commentary. There’s only one podcast that’s totally devoted to talent acquisition research, analysis and data: Start Smart. It’s a biweekly podcast hosted by Madeline Laurano, Founder of Aptitude Research, and Peter Weddle, CEO of TAtech. The podcast explores the most important topics in talent acquisition today by introducing and discussing the latest research findings on those topics from Aptitude Research. That makes Start Smart a uniquely important resource for both corporate and industry thought leaders.
Older Workers Leading COVID-Era Jobs Exodus
The labor shortage employers are currently facing is obvious to anyone who’s recently eaten out at a restaurant or visited a retail store. Slow service, “help wanted” signs, and even businesses that are temporarily closed due to a lack of staff are increasingly common sights. Although the labor market’s woes could be partially attributed to younger workers who aren’t willing to take on low-paying, service-sector jobs, another significant factor is the major exodus of older workers from the labor force. In an article for Forbes, Jonathan Ponciano points to the findings of Goldman Sachs analysts that project a labor force participation rate of only 61.9% by the end of 2021—and 61.2% by the end of 2022. This puts labor rate participation at its lowest level in 45 years, he says. “Led by Goldman’s Jan Hatzius, the analysts point out most of the 5 million people who have exited the labor force since the start of the pandemic are over the age of 55 and likely won’t ever return to work, due largely to early and natural retirements of about 1.5 million and 1 million, respectively,” Ponciano writes.
Professional Network Contra Secures $30M in Additional Funding
Contra, a professional network for independent workers founded by Ben Huffman and Gajust Kuizinas, has secured $30 million in Series B funding, led by NEA, with participation from Unusual Ventures and Cowboy Ventures, both of which invested in Contra’s $14.5 million Series A last year. The latest funding round gives the company just under $45 million in total funding, Mr. Huffman told TechCrunch. Contra provides tools for independent workers to build a professional identity and manage their work from inquiry to project scope discussion to signing a contract to getting paid, all without having to pay upwards of 20 percent of fees that other independent work websites may charge, Mr. Huffman said.
North American Startup Funding Scaled Unprecedented Heights in 2021
We don’t use many exclamation points when writing about startup funding. But the 2021 North American annual tallies require at least a few. In short: It was a really big year for funding! Really, really big!! It was record-setting big, and not by a small margin!!! Over the course of 12 months in 2021, investors put $329.5 billion (!!) into startup investments across all stages, per Crunchbase data. That’s an increase of 92 percent from 2020 levels, which were themselves record-setting. The year ended on an up note too, with fourth-quarter investment totaling $88.9 billion across stages, making it both the spendiest quarter of the year and the highest in the history of the Crunchbase dataset.
John Deere’s self-driving tractor spurs debate on AI in farming
Deere & Co. helped mechanize agriculture in 1837 with the first commercially successful steel plow. On Tuesday, the company unveiled a machine that could prove just as transformative: a fully autonomous tractor. John Deere’s new 8R tractor uses six pairs of stereo cameras and advanced artificial intelligence to perceive its environment and navigate. It can find its way to a field on its own when given a route and coordinates, then plow the soil or sow seeds without instructions, avoiding obstacles as it goes. A farmer can give the machine new orders using a smartphone app. “It's a monumental shift,” says Jahmy Hindman, Deere’s chief technology officer, of the new machine, revealed at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “I think it's every bit as big as the transition from horse to tractor.” Self-driving tractors could help save farmers money and automate work that is threatened by an ongoing agricultural labor shortage. But automating more of farming, and adding AI, may also stir debate around replacing workers as well as ownership and use of the data it generates.
An Outside-the-Box Investment in TA technology: The TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management
Who gets blamed when a talent technology solution doesn’t live up to customer expectations? The solution provider, of course. Yet, research shows that the vast majority of such shortcomings are caused not by the product or its developer but by inadequate implementation by the buyer. To put it bluntly, most technology consumers lack the skills and knowledge to bring such products onboard, no matter how robust the provider’s own implementation support may be. What’s the solution? Educate your customer. Position your company as an implementation partner with its customers and enroll them in the TAtech Learning & Certification Program in Talent Technology Implementation Management. Your investment will be small and the ROI will be huge, both in customer success stories and your brand’s reputation.