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Apprenticeships can help companies fill gaps with quality talent

Although apprenticeship is primarily used for skilled trades in construction and manufacturing, the apprenticeship model has been modernized to incorporate the necessary flexibility, such as competency-based training, delivery of virtual or hybrid instruction and direct alignment with industry credentials and university credit towards college degrees. (Credit: goodluz/Shutterstock.com)

The goals of an apprenticeship program are to provide an employee with a fair wage and widely applicable, nationally recognized certification, create opportunities for career advancement, and cultivate an advanced skill set that meets needs of an employer and generate overall positive returns on investment for employers. Registered learning, supported by the Department of Labor, allows organizations to broaden their sources of talent without lowering their hiring standards, because typical requirements such as work experience are actively met on the job.

Although apprenticeship programs have been available in many industries for decades, unbridled market growth, along with labor shortages in recent years, has led to the need to modernize the apprenticeship model to meet the growing and dynamic needs of the labor market and the hiring needs of companies. For example, risk management firm ClearForce has joined Safal Partners, a workforce solutions organization, to provide employers with a streamlined, high-quality way to recruit, train and develop workers in the professions. essential technologies through a one-of-a-kind. registered national apprenticeship program. Their unique approach includes state-of-the-art employee behavioral tracking throughout the apprenticeship process, to optimize apprentice development while reducing hiring process risk for companies.

Although apprenticeship is primarily used for skilled trades in construction and manufacturing, the apprenticeship model has been modernized to incorporate the necessary flexibility, such as competency-based training, delivery of virtual or hybrid instruction and direct alignment with industry credentials and university credit towards college degrees. . The template can be customized and used by almost any industry or business with similar significant benefits. By adopting this low-risk method of hiring, organizations can enjoy the productivity of a skilled employee, and workers can gain the skills, credentials, and certifications needed to further their career advancement.

Technology is one of the fastest growing sectors for modern learning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), tech occupations are poised to grow faster than any other field in the United States. However, the labor pipeline is not keeping pace. Industry experts and hiring managers are concerned that positions are taking longer to fill and that current educational pathways are not preparing young professionals enough for the world of work. For example, according to Cyberseek.org, there are currently nearly 600,000 open cybersecurity jobs in the United States alone and a supply/demand ratio of 68%, which means there are only enough cybersecurity workers to fill 68% of jobs demanded by employers. Infosec’s 2020 IT and Security Talent Pipeline Study found that 72% of hiring managers surveyed said there were “not enough qualified candidates to fill cyber vacancies.” “.

The growing shortage of workers in the tech space as well as other critical sectors including healthcare, transportation, hospitality and utilities, as well as blue-collar industries like construction and manufacturing, leaves employers face several options: endure long-term staffing shortages, seek capital-intensive opportunities to automate, lower or adjust hiring standards, or develop some type of internal learning or accelerated professional development pipeline.

Long-term staffing shortages, especially for key technology and cybersecurity roles, could have serious consequences. With the increase in cyberattacks by malicious actors, foreign and domestic understaffed organizations are vulnerable to data breaches and other attacks that could result in data loss or lasting financial and/or reputational damage.

Lowering or adjusting hiring standards could help employers fill positions faster, but are the trade-offs worth it? For example, simply removing or changing requirements for college degrees, industry experience, or criminal history restrictions would likely immediately increase organizations’ pool of eligible applicants. However, without a talent assessment and development plan, this is unlikely to translate into the engaged, high-quality workforce they seek.

Having a structured training and assessment or certification plan in place for critical occupations allows organizations to refine hiring requirements, broaden the search for talent, and create career paths to increase the long-term loyalty of workers. Apprenticeship is the gold standard for workforce training. Assessment or certification is essential; Registered apprenticeship programs not only focus on training, but also ensure that apprentices demonstrate the knowledge and skills acquired to achieve mastery of the occupation, assessed through assessments throughout the program.

Apprenticeship empowers employers to take a skills and aptitude-based approach to hiring in critical positions. By using industry-validated training frameworks that combine both structured on-the-job tasks and related instruction, employers can more confidently mitigate hiring risk and expand their pool of qualified candidates. For example, by focusing on the skills and competencies required for technical roles and developing a structured training plan for qualified candidates to acquire these skills, companies can remove the default college degree requirement for all professional roles. This is especially important given that according to 2019 US Census data, more than half (58%) of the US workforce does not have a college degree.

Even for positions requiring a college degree, given the speed at which technology advances, the information a candidate learned in school may very well be outdated, especially if a job requires a combination of a bachelor’s degree and many years of professional experience. Apprenticeships offer new graduates a way to immediately gain relevant on-the-job training they typically haven’t received through their college program.

The apprenticeship also allows employers to expand their roster of interested and qualified individuals by providing valuable federal and state resources to support the employment of non-traditional candidates, such as non-violent criminal backgrounds. While employers may have a policy of excluding applicants with criminal histories outright due to the belief that past behavior is a guarantee of future behavior, according to the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM), 66% of managers who followed fair-chance hiring practices and hired someone with a criminal history rated that person’s work as comparable to that of employees without a criminal history. In addition to support and resources from local Workforce Development Boards, employers with registered apprenticeship programs may qualify for federal tax credits and access the federal bonding program. This provides free fidelity bonds to employers who hire people with criminal records.

Combining behavioral risk management with an apprenticeship program can help increase focus and, in some cases, accelerate the development of critical skill sets in apprentices while reducing risk in the hiring process. Together, the approaches allow managers to continuously assess apprentice performance against customizable risk assessment criteria (including but not limited to criminal and violent records, sex offender records and unfavorable social media posts) to ensure that the candidate does not pose a threat to the reputation of the organization or its other employees. Candidates can be continuously monitored throughout the duration of the apprenticeship. Employers can also be immediately notified through push alerts of potential causes of concern. The result is improved hiring and development criteria without lowering hiring standards.

An added benefit of apprenticeship is that it provides the employer with a structured method to attract talent that would otherwise not be qualified for a position, by starting the apprentice at a lower price (typically 40-70% of the rate remuneration of a fully qualified employee). ), recognizing that they are going to receive invaluable training, mentoring and instruction, and providing the hiring manager with a way to assess an apprentice’s progress through training in skills and competencies that are essential before to engage in permanent full-time employment. to rent out.

A contemporary learning program designed to meet the dynamic needs of the 21st century job market and employers can differentiate a company in its search for top talent. If organizations don’t take steps to expand their hiring and development processes, it’s almost inevitable that critical positions will go unfilled or employees will be hired without the full capacity needed to perform their jobs and contribute to expectations. of the employer. Innovative advances in risk assessment technologies and services are key to creating modern learning programs. It would no longer be necessary to choose between reducing the quality of hiring or filling positions with qualified candidates. Businesses can now have both with confidence.

Steve Milovitch is currently Chairman of Milovich Partners, Senior Advisor to Boston Consulting Group and a member of the ClearForce Advisory Board. Steve has held senior human resources positions at The Walt Disney Company, PepsiCo and Honeywell.

Katie Adams is a Senior Director at Safal Partners. Katie leads the company’s strategic development and execution of innovative workforce development solutions for public sector clients.

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