Developing a New Talent Pipeline

How to incorporate an untapped pool of talent that can generate double bottom-line results.

We often hear from employers that one of their biggest pain points is finding high-quality entry-level talent. With the unemployment rate in America currently at 4.1 percent, it should not be a surprise that hiring is a challenge. However, employers often overlook an untapped pool of talent—the nearly 4.9 million young adults who are unemployed, underemployed, or out of school. At Grads of Life, our mission is to help employers build a talent pipeline that works for them—one that can streamline onboarding and training, improve employee retention, increase diversity, provide subsidized labor costs through government incentives, and heighten goodwill in the community. These are proven business benefits, which you can learn more about in our white paper, Workforce Wins: The Case for Opportunity Youth Talent Pipelines, which highlights innovative employers who have found double bottom-line success with this approach.

So how do you get there? One key element of this process is selecting a nonprofit training partner that works with young adults to identify and support talent development. A training provider partner can find and prepare young adults, offer technical and soft skill, development, support the young adults through mentoring and coaching, and supply wrap-around support such as transportation assistance and other social services. Training providers come in all shapes and sizes; the key is finding a provider that will be a good fit for your business needs. Some questions you might want to ask yourself to find the right provider include:

  • What is the main goal of the partnership? What will each party gain from it? Perhaps you are seeking to reduce your interview-to-hire ratio by having access to pre-screened talent. Perhaps you want to build a pipeline into your management program. Or maybe you see a need to engage the community in which you operate. Remember to think not just about what your company will gain, but also how the opportunity you are offering can lead to a longer-term career for a young adult.
  • What role should the training provider play in pre-hire training and post-hire support? Recruiting candidates, training them in a particular set of hard skills, and/or offering wrap-around support services? Getting clear on what role your company would like to play and where you could use assistance will ensure everyone is clear on their responsibilities from the beginning.
  • What kinds of young people does the organization serve and what does training look like? Consider the skills required for the roles you need to fill. You might be looking for young people with great interpersonal skills, fluency in multiple languages, or a particular set of technical skills. Some providers focus on particular career paths such as IT support or sales representatives. Others may focus more on youth development and professional skills such as communication or problem solving.
  • How does the training provider typically work with employers? How long are they willing to stay engaged once candidates have been placed? Some providers have a formal corporate engagement process, while others may be willing to work with you to create an individualized plan. Post-hire support is key to ensuring you see benefits such as higher retention rates—think about whether this is support and training you will be providing or if you want the provider to continue to remain involved.

Identifying and agreeing upon shared goals, driven by employer need and training provider capabilities, is critical to partnership success throughout the process. A growing number of innovative employers are enjoying double bottom-line benefits through partnering with training providers to develop more cost-effective talent practices, while at the same time expanding access to the middle class for young adults in need of opportunity. We invite you to join them in building new talent pipelines—and strengthening your company and your community at the same time.

Elyse Rosenblum is a thought leader who has extensive experience working with private-sector leaders, nonprofits, and foundations to develop a strategy to engage employers in creating employment pathways for opportunity youth, defined as young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 who are out of school and out of work. One of the Principals of Grads of Life, Rosenblum is responsible for setting the strategy and direction of the Grads of Life initiative. Grads of Life consists of a multimedia advertising campaign designed to change how employers think about talent and an accompanying Web platform designed to help employers take action in creating pathways for young people into work. Prior to her work with Grads of Life, Rosenblum was the director of the Employment Pathways Project. She also worked for Corporate Voices for Working Families and Bass & Howes, a public policy consulting firm. She holds a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.

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