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The competition for emerging talent is changing, who will win?

competition for emerging talent

When it comes to building and managing an effective globalized workforce, many companies are struggling. That’s true across countries, industries, and firms of varying stages. There are several reasons behind this struggle. Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic changed many things about how we work. In particular, pandemic-related work changes have caused an enormous shift in how the youngest generations of workers think about work, their role in the global economy, and the way work fits into their lives. Companies everywhere are struggling to catch up.

The meteoric rise in remote work is increasing access to the global talent market for both employees and job searchers. Positions that used to be domestic can now be accessed by top applicants from around the world. And because of this, new talent is emerging at rates that have never before been seen.

That’s great news for employers looking to build up talent at their organization and fill skill and knowledge gaps. But only to those who are able to find, develop, and retain emerging talent. It’s a competitive endeavor, and many firms don’t know where to start.

If you’re a company or a university looking to step up your efforts when it comes to finding and retaining emerging talent, read on to find out more about what emerging talent expects from a job, and how to create a pipeline. You can also register for our upcoming webinar: The competition for emerging talent is changing, who will win? This event features some of the world’s top corporate HR leaders and will address the challenges of the evolving workforce environment, and how new technologies and mentalities are shaping the future.


young professionals are emerging talent

The changing realities of work

There’s no denying that work as we once knew it has changed. Even for companies that have returned to traditional office setups and hours, things are different. This is evidenced by the so-called “great resignation” that has swept the working world over the last two years. 

Data shows that in November 2021, 4.5 million workers left their jobs, breaking records and leaving employers everywhere struggling to stem the exodus.

Many experts agree that workers everywhere felt empowered by the flexibility of remote work during the pandemic and that it’s this moment of empowerment that’s spearheading the changing work environment. Emerging talent – usually considered to be workers with less than five years of experience in the workforce – have different priorities, demands, and ideas about work.

For example, today’s emerging talent prioritizes flexibility above just about anything else. They want remote work options and working hours that fit their lifestyles. Many view work, and its role in their lives, differently. Some view work as a means to support travel and other personal growth experiences. Others expect growth opportunities, mentorship, and support.

At the end of the day, emerging talent is in incredibly high demand, and firms are getting creative in their attempts to attract them and mold them into tomorrow’s corporate leadership.


Prioritizing emerging talent

Identifying, developing, and retaining emerging talent is absolutely essential for firms of all sizes who want to remain successful in the coming decades. Today’s emerging talent is tomorrow’s C-suite. They’re incredibly technologically fluent, they value innovation, engagement, and flexibility. Gen-Z, which is the generation that makes up most of emerging talent today, prioritizes work-life balance above all else. They also care about career growth, mentorship opportunities, and company culture, particularly the social element.

For many companies, winning the competition for emerging talent in regard to recruitment, development, and retention, requires a fundamental shift. Not just in hiring practices, but in benefits, structure, culture, and more. And of course, that’s easier said than done.

The Association for Talent Development explains that developing emerging talent can be challenging because they have less experience with the workforce in general. Their recent study indicates that most employers aren’t particularly effective at developing global talent. One of the top challenges to developing emerging talent, according to respondents in the ATD study, is the failure to make it a priority.

One new aspect of the workforce that may help firms in their efforts to win the emerging talent wars is remote work. That flexibility combined with increasingly globalized economies means that companies can now expand their search for emerging talent beyond local university job fairs and domestic postings.


youg professional on cell phone

Remote work and globalization

Experts predict that the immense benefits of remote work will push employers in all sectors to hire more international candidates in the next few years. That means increased access to previously restricted talent pools, and better opportunities to recruit and develop diverse employees.

That’s an important prediction on many fronts. Of course, it stands to change the makeup of both local and global firms. Top-tier international talent with diverse backgrounds and skillsets won’t be restricted to multinational corporations with hundreds of offices around the world. Instead, any company anywhere in the world can identify and hire the very best candidates for their needs, without the concerns of visas and physical distance.

The other reason this trend is incredibly impactful is that it goes a long way towards bridging the professional access gap that exists between emerging talent in different parts of the world. Companies that get ahead of the emerging talent-hiring trend will have the opportunity to be pioneers in breaking down the barriers students and young professionals face in developing economies.

Here at The Intern Group, we’ve already begun helping companies and universities bridge the access gap. For example, one of our most successful university partnerships is with Aga Khan University, located in Pakistan. Through that incredible partnership, we place students from Pakistan, including medical students, with international professional placements, with the goal of expanding access to international experience and encouraging global perspectives.

That same international perspective and unique experience is also a huge benefit to hiring companies everywhere. Hiring remote interns from developing countries has had a truly unparalleled impact on the companies that have already done so.


An emerging talent pipeline

Building a pipeline of emerging talent should be a top priority for companies and universities globally. However, it’s also one of the biggest challenges firms are facing today. The first and most important thing for employers to start doing is expanding their search for talent beyond the familiar universities in domestic markets.

Our White Paper with MlT concludes that organizations must seek out diverse talent from around the world, in particular, talent from underrepresented areas. Diversifying your workforce has an incredible impact at all levels of an organization. It benefits both the bottom line and the company culture, as well as employee morale and longevity.

One of the best ways to build a pipeline is through an internship or apprenticeship program. Whether you hire interns quarterly or annually, they’ll leave your program well-prepared to take on a full-time role within the organization – ready-made talent curated for your specific needs. And, data shows that an intern who is hired after their internship is at least 20% more likely to stay at the company for at least a year, compared to their peers who are hired outside internship programs.

Of course, the rise of remote internships and their proven effectiveness make it much easier for companies to develop and maintain their own internship programs. Remote internships are an excellent way to ensure global candidates develop the specific skills your firm needs, and to ensure you have diverse emerging talent prepared to take over leadership roles when the time comes.


remote interns are emerging talent

The emerging talent challenge: Retention

At this point, most employers agree that harnessing the power of emerging talent is an essential component of success in the coming years. But, between the “great resignation” and the trend of young employees moving jobs frequently, retaining emerging talent is another matter.

There are several things companies should be thinking about when it comes to improving retention and targeting emerging talent. Of course, one important piece is benefits and flexibility. Find out what emerging talent wants (remote work flexibility, work culture, growth opportunities,) and fill out those offerings within your organization. The reality is that for most industries, the future of emerging talent acquisition and retention lies in remote work. That might be a hard pill to swallow for some firms, but it’s an important factor to take into consideration. Not only will it keep emerging talent happier once they join, but it also increases the talent pool companies have access to.

Companies should also think about their onboarding process – what is the experience like for emerging talent after they sign the contract? Take a close look at how different teams and managers onboard, and compare practices to retention rate. Companies should prioritize support and development for managers who will be working closely with emerging talent, empowering them to adjust their approach in order to retain new and diverse talent.

It’s also important to keep in mind that emerging talent often requires soft skills training, especially if they didn’t come through an internship pipeline. Effective training programs and transparent growth policies are just as important as hiring practices.


Are you looking for more information and support in attracting and retaining emerging talent? Register here for our upcoming webinar, which will focus on helping companies stay competitive and become leaders in global talent acquisition. We’ll talk about developing and maintaining effective internship programs, and how firms can create a benefits package that appeals to emerging talent in all fields.



  1. Coffee Gathering, by Helena Lopes on Unsplash.
  2. Untitled, by ​​Marie-Michèle Bouchard
  3. Girl in the train. Overlooking Gangnam, by Elle Morre on Unsplash.
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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!