Young talent in emerging markets

‘Young talent’ and ’emerging markets’ are now part of our lexicon and day-to-day conversations. Within organisations, there are many formal discussions on how to manage ‘young talent’ or apply talent management to the younger generations. These discussions are informed, in part, by the growing publications on the ‘problem’, ‘challenges’ and quandaries of the younger generations. These publications are mostly from the context of developed countries. Where reference is made to the ’emerging markets’ context it appears this context compounds the issue and challenges of the younger generations.

If we step back we can see that there are many contestations regarding the definition of ‘young talent‘ (most times designated or represented as the ‘millennial generation’) and ‘emerging markets‘, including their usefulness as explanatory constructs. If we take a more pragmatic stance, we could see these as heuristic constructs that can serve as broad categories albeit with certain caveats. We can then explore their relations.

Firstly, we need to be mindful of the assumptions informing these categories and their use. For example, the assumptions on learning, development,  generations and inter-generational dynamics as well as those on diversity, inclusion, governance, institutions and economic and stakeholder value.

Secondly, we need to also be mindful of the histories of the countries and national economies designated as ’emerging markets’; and the impact on their demographics, development, institutions, systems, infrastructure and governance.

Thirdly, as we unfold the histories, we need to examine how the various industrial revolutions have evolved and are evolving within and across the ’emerging markets’. See the section on Innovation, disruption and the 4th industrial revolution.

So, how do we link the macro-level category of ’emerging markets’ and the micro-level category of specific cohorts of ‘young talent’? The figure below provides an illustrative example. It presents a model of how we need to frame and address the development of young talent in emerging markets while being mindful of assumptions, histories and the evolving ‘fourth industrial revolution’. The focus of the model is on a ‘cognition and learning lab’.  

 Young talent


The above model builds on our consulting model and our argument for attending to and understanding the educational and human capital value chain: see Our purpose , Leadership and talent development and Human capital value chain and ecosystem. For more details on the design of the lab and learning spaces see Learning design, design mind-set and practice.


We can also link the macro-level category of ’emerging markets’ and the micro-level category of specific cohorts of ‘young talent’ by exploring the supply and demand-side dynamics of the labour market as illustrated below. Youth unemployment is a specific concern within emerging markets. It requires a holistic examination of the policies, value chains, institutions and intermediaries involved; and co-ordinated action by different stakeholders such as government, industries, individual firms and ETD institutions.

 youth employment value chain