February 2, 2012

In a recent editorial in The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted that the Chicago area has a 10% unemployment rate but more than 100,000 unfilled jobs. In doing so, he highlighted the skills gap that undermines the region's economic competitiveness and announced a public/private partnership between Chicago's Olive-Harvey College and AAR Corp. The prototype program, called "Colleges to Careers," is intended to help bridge that divide.

Mayor Emanuel's message walks hand-in-hand with our Q&A in this issue of The Business & Legal Quarterly. In that insightful article, Gail Longmore, CEO and Managing Director of the Global Midwest Alliance, reinforces the importance of technology as a driver of economic growth. She describes some of the challenges facing area researchers, entrepreneurs and business owners, and also focuses attention on the extensive resources that exist right here in our own backyard, including the area's exceptional institutions of higher education.

Taken together, Mayor Emanuel and Ms. Longmore shed light on an important responsibility of any business leader: talent management. This fundamental and ongoing process requires asking specific questions on a regular basis. Where is my company, right now? Where do I want my company to be in five or ten years? Do I have the necessary human resources to meet current needs, and will additional, well-trained professionals be available to meet future demands? If there is a talent gap, how will I bridge it?

Once a company has completed a talent assessment, it can develop strategies for addressing existing and future needs. Such strategies may include the creation of internal training and development programs, implementation of recruiting initiatives targeting entry-level and lateral professionals, and participation in regional programs, such as Mayor Emanuel's "Colleges to Careers" partnership.

At a higher level, you should make sure talent management is an essential, core element of your corporate culture. In so doing, you will strengthen your company's ability to compete—both at home and in the global marketplace.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.