One way to tackle today’s workforce challenges might be to pay more attention to what experts call “hidden workers.”
On Thursday, a talent forum hosted by the Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce highlighted three populations: refugees, people with disabilities and previously incarcerated residents. Hidden workers are potential candidates for vacancies who lack traditional labor market qualifications.
The Chamber’s annual event aims to address current issues in the capital and showcase potential solutions to workforce challenges.
A 74-page report titled “Hidden Workers: Untapped Talent” from Harvard Business School said companies that hire hidden workers are 36% less likely to face talent shortages than companies that don’t.
“Removing the barriers will require an overhaul of many aspects of the hiring system – from where companies source talent, how they write their job descriptions, the role managers and supervisors play in relation to human resources in the hiring process. ‘establishment of specifications, the technologies used to screen applications and rank applicants, the process of onboarding applicants, the provision of training and supportive coaching, and even the care benefits provided,’ says the report.
Eddie Gonzalez Loumiet, CEO of Ruvos, an IT services company that securely manages lab, hospital and healthcare facility data, said he was working with Future Pathways regarding a potential candidate interested in cybersecurity.
“It’s a high-demand job, but we just don’t have enough cybersecurity experts. We will try to give it a shot,” said Loumiet, who chairs. “It will be a learning experience for our company, just as it is a learning experience for many companies here today.”
Gonzalez-Loumiet said widespread challenges in finding employees have forced employers to be creative and consider populations that may have previously been overlooked.
Future Pathways is responsible for “helping teens and adults with disabilities prepare for employment, live independently, and develop social skills in the Tallahassee area.”
He said these organizations help employers identify what they can do to create mild to moderate adjustments to help people with disabilities perform and excel in the workplace.
“They work with you to help you understand what to do as an employer and they train people,” Loumiet said. “It can honestly fill in the gaps.”
Sachs Media Partner and President Michelle Ubben urged employers at the forum to consider refugees as a potential pool of talent. Ubben volunteers with Tallahassee Refuge Connection, a newly formed grassroots organization that serves as a networking tool for refugees and residents with resources and goods that can be donated to refugees.
“There are a lot of people in our community who don’t even know that we have refugee families and more coming,” Ubben said.
Refugees Among Us:
During her presentation, she addressed some hiring challenges, including language barriers, transportation, and proper documentation to prove education and certification.
Ubben said the tragic scenes of refugees fleeing war-torn countries helped spark greater awareness of their plight for freedom and a better way of life. She told of a highly skilled Afghan mechanic who was unable to find a job in the capital.
“I hope the stigma is reduced, but there absolutely is,” Ubben said. “He had a hard time getting accepted here because the other mechanics can’t talk to him and here’s the language barrier.”
Contact TaMaryn Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @TaMarynWaters on Twitter.
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