Building a More Equitable Talent Market: Solutions for a Brighter Future

Apr 21, 2023

In recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore the stark reality that our talent market is in shambles. Despite a seemingly endless stream of technological advancements and a growing global economy, the labor market has become more competitive, cutthroat, and ultimately, detrimental to the workers and society as a whole. This opinion piece will touch on the controversial aspects of our current talent market, including the gig economy, credential inflation, and the rise of automation, which are making it increasingly difficult for workers to thrive and find job satisfaction.

The Gig Economy: A False Sense of Freedom

The rise of the gig economy has been hailed as a significant step forward for worker freedom and flexibility. However, it has also led to a precarious working environment where job security is a luxury few can afford. Gig workers, who are often classified as independent contractors, lack the benefits and protections that full-time employees enjoy. This has led to a significant increase in worker vulnerability, with countless individuals struggling to make ends meet.

Credential Inflation: The Expensive Barrier to Entry

With an increasing number of individuals seeking higher education, the value of a bachelor’s degree is no longer what it once was. This has led to credential inflation, where the requirements for even entry-level positions have become more demanding, forcing job-seekers to pursue further education, often at great financial cost. This phenomenon has widened the gap between the haves and have-nots, making it challenging for those without the means to access higher education to break into the job market.

The Rise of Automation: The Looming Threat to Human Labor

Automation is often seen as a double-edged sword. While it can undoubtedly increase efficiency and productivity, it also presents a significant threat to human labor. According to a 2021 report by McKinsey & Company, approximately 45 million workers in the United States may be displaced by automation by 2030. This dramatic shift will lead to increased unemployment and force many individuals to seek new, unfamiliar employment opportunities. Furthermore, this rise in automation is likely to exacerbate existing social and economic inequalities.

The Solutions: A Radical Rethinking

As the talent market faces unprecedented challenges, it is crucial to develop sustainable and equitable solutions. The gig economy, credential inflation, and the rise of automation are transforming the landscape, making it increasingly difficult for workers to secure stable and fulfilling employment. This article will explore potential solutions to these pressing issues, with the aim of creating a more level playing field for all workers.

  1. Reforming the Gig Economy: Ensuring Fairness and Stability

The gig economy has expanded rapidly, providing flexibility and freedom for many. However, it has also left workers vulnerable and without the benefits and protections afforded to full-time employees. To address this issue, the following steps should be taken:

  • Implementing legislation to classify gig workers as employees, ensuring they have access to benefits such as health insurance, sick leave, and retirement plans.
  • Establishing a minimum wage for gig workers to prevent exploitation and provide a stable income.
  • Encouraging companies to offer professional development opportunities and support for career progression, empowering gig workers to grow and advance.
  1. Tackling Credential Inflation: Making Education Accessible and Affordable

Credential inflation has become a significant barrier to entry for many job seekers, as the rising demand for higher education often comes with crippling student debt. To counteract this issue, the following measures can be implemented:

  • Expanding access to affordable higher education by increasing funding for public universities and community colleges, while also exploring innovative solutions such as income-share agreements.
  • Encouraging companies to prioritize skills and experience over formal education during the hiring process, reducing the pressure on job seekers to obtain advanced degrees.
  • Promoting vocational training and apprenticeship programs to provide alternative pathways for individuals to enter the workforce with valuable, in-demand skills.
  1. Preparing for Automation: Upskilling and Retraining the Workforce

The rise of automation presents both challenges and opportunities. To ensure that workers are prepared for the changes that lie ahead, the following steps should be taken:

  • Investing in upskilling and reskilling programs to help workers adapt to new technologies and job requirements, fostering a culture of lifelong learning.
  • Collaborating with industry leaders to identify the skills and occupations most at risk, allowing for targeted interventions and support for affected workers.
  • Encouraging companies to invest in their employees’ professional development by offering training and educational opportunities, ensuring that workers remain competitive in a rapidly evolving job market.


The talent market is facing significant challenges, but with the right interventions and commitment, we can create a more equitable and stable environment for all. By reforming the gig economy, tackling credential inflation, and preparing workers for automation, we can build a brighter future that benefits everyone. While these solutions require a collaborative effort from governments, businesses, educational institutions, and individuals, the potential rewards are well worth the investment: a thriving workforce and a more prosperous society.


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David McInnis

President & Founding Partner

David has two decades of global recruitment experience and is Founding Partner of Willard Powell. Prior to founding Willard Powell, David worked with Leathwaite International, a global executive search firm. Before his employment with Leathwaite, David worked for Wachovia Securities (now Wells Fargo Securities) supporting the firm’s Investment Banking & Capital Markets Technology group. David is a graduate of Lasell College in Newton, MA, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Management Information Systems. David also serves as a Trustee on Lasell’s Board.