Talent crisis continues, is AI overrated? – Executive Forum


The talent crisis continues to loom large. Technology keeps evolving, but humans will always be in the picture. And artificial intelligence — is it overrated?

A keynote panel of top staffing executives broached these issues and more during “The Outlook for the Next Generation of Staffing” panel moderated by Staffing Industry Analysts President Barry Asin on Tuesday at Executive Forum North America in Miami Beach, Florida.

The panel revealed some skepticism over ChatGPT and artificial intelligence.

“I just think we’ve overused the word AI too much,” said John Martins, a panelist and president and CEO of healthcare staffing firm Cross Country Healthcare Inc.

“I don’t think we have artificial intelligence in what people think we have,” Martins said. “What we do [have is] pretty good analytics, we have pretty good data, and that’s where I think we don’t do a good enough job in general of utilizing.”

A key to getting the most from AI will be predictive analytics where data will be able to show what a job-seeker’s next move might be, he said.

Panelist Sander van ‘t Noordende, CEO and chairman of Randstad nv, expressed concern over the hype surrounding AI products such as ChatGPT.

“I clearly see the potential,” van ‘t Noordende said. “I see enormous opportunity … I also see opportunities for major screw-ups.”

Van ‘t Noordende continued, “We have had the discussion in Randstad, things about where it talks about individuals where it talks about judgment, we stay away from Chat.”

Still, AI will likely bring opportunities to improve screening or documentation, he said.

Panelist Mark Eldridge, CEO and founder of Alku, said it was a familiar story. Back in the day, people warned that job boards were coming and will change your job. Then it was VMS arriving, and now it’s AI coming for recruiters’ jobs. However, “my job has kind of stayed the same,” Eldridge said.

Instead, the key is to have a strong understanding of your external market, he said. Once you know that, the key is to focus on internal operations to produce results.

Panelists also touched on platforms that connect workers with jobs; one questions posed was, “Who will be the Uber of staffing?”

Panelist Kate Duchene, CEO of RGP, noted her company is testing an initiative called “Hugo” aimed at millennials that is a self-service digital channel.

“We’re really testing in an employed consultant model whether this kind of marketplace will work in professional services,” Duchene said, noting that different segments of talent want different things.

Van ‘t Noordende noted that Randstad as such is already a platform with most candidates coming to the company through digital means.

“I want Randstad to be the Randstad of staffing,” he said. “Technology should help our people do a better job so they can spend more time with the clients and talent. That is the name of the game.”

Another theme: Talent is scarce.

For example, Martins said the world needs far more nurses than it has.

“This is not just a US problem, but it’s a world epidemic,” he said.

Looking ahead 10 years, the concern is the labor shortage will continue to worsen, Martins said.

Other panelists’ forecasts for the next 10 years included more people working in a nontraditional capacity and the further advancement of technology.

“I would say the workforce is going to be made up of a large sector that is working in a nontraditional capacity,” Eldridge said. “Whether their side hustle becomes their full-time job or they establish their own company or they work more as consultants on a variety of projects — we are going to see more and more of that. It’s a trend that’s already in place. … Many of our clients that don’t think about that today are going to have to embrace strategies to choose that as a way to continue to get talent.”

Duchene said she sees technology continuing to advance across the spectrum, but humans will not disappear.

Executive Forum North America continues through Thursday.