Here is a “novel” idea—train the workers that you need yourself!

Thought we'd take a brief respite on our recent series of "Unwritten Rules"…

In an increasingly difficult employment environment: I was reminded again recently of this strategy in the Kiplinger Washington Letter.

Let me "synthesize" or distill this idea down a bit if you haven't considered this idea yourself in the past. 

It seems like everywhere I visit, my VISTAGE™ members (and as reported in our partner publications the WSJ and Inc. magazine) are facing a chronic lack of skilled help. In fact, in the USA, it is estimated that there are 6 million unfilled positions. Maybe you and you're business is (are) in the mainstream— or are you or your business an outlier?

As a result, according to Kiplinger, businesses are turning to a new strategy: Train the workers they need themselves.

Apprenticeships are catching on fast. Expect them to proliferate in coming years as more young people decide against pricey colleges in favor of on-the-job training programs that end in vocational certification and gainful employment. Let's face it. College isn't for everybody even though your parents probably thought so. My friend Giuseppe reminded me of this recently.

As employers, you will drive the trend. Now, firms in many industries are starting up training programs often times in conjunction with 2-year community colleges focused on vocational training. In fact, here in RTP, Wake Tech is driving the car! Colleges just aren’t training enough people to meet the needs of certain industries. Builders, manufacturers and other employers want workers who can drive trucks, weld, run complex machinery and do other jobs that traditional colleges don’t teach. For employers, the advantages are sizable. They can train future workers on the specific skills that they need. The folks who complete a program are known quantities and often times include baseline behavioral testing for culture fit…no need to "take a flier" hiring someone after a brief interview. After all, it is all about the culture and the pace that you define at your workplace.

ROI on this apprenticeship approach has significant ROI: After factoring in gains such as lower recruiting costs and higher worker productivity, businesses that sponsor apprenticeships reported ROI of 5% on the low end to as high as 25%! Trainees benefit, too, in the form of low but steady pay during the program, little or no debt incurred, and strong odds of a well-paying job upon completion. 

Some occupations that are ripe for in-house training: Health care jobs such as paramedic, plus dental, medical and pharmacist assistant. Financial jobs such as insurance underwriter and bank teller. High-tech work like programming. Utility jobs such as installing fiber-optic cable and repairing gas and electric lines. Oil refinery and power substation jobs. Chef. Baker. Truck driver. The list is long.

As an added bonus, in some states, there are tax credits available!