Evolving Worker Recruitment to Address a National Hiring Shortage
Employers across the country are broadening their recruitment and hiring efforts to include groups that historically have faced barriers to employment, according to a new report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Talent Pipeline Management® (TPM) Academy. The publication, Opportunity Knocks, is based on studies funded in part by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
What is Opportunity Talent?
Labor shortages that began during the COVID-19 pandemic left employers in many areas rethinking their recruitment and hiring practices, notes the report’s authors, Dr. David DeLong and Jaimie Francis. These changes have created openings for “opportunity talent” – capable workers who face employment barriers that are often outside of their control, such as limited access to educational and professional opportunities. Included in this group: people who have been involved in the criminal justice system, immigrants, people with disabilities and those from low-income households.
TPM Case Studies
Researchers looked at several initiatives to better understand what works — and what doesn’t work as well — when engaging opportunity talent. The report cites findings from four different case studies that follow TPM partners. These are:
- California’s San Diego Economic Development Corporation (EDC) launched an employer collaborative to enhance the region’s talent pool . This effort aimed to align employer staffing needs with local college programs to increase Latino talent in software engineering jobs.
- The Kentucky Chamber Foundation used their employer collaborative’s second-chance hiring program to develop program design templates that increase job opportunities for talented workers with criminal justice system involvement.
- Consumers Energy, Michigan’s statewide utility, customized an electric line training program to increase the number of female workers and workers of color.
- DTE Energy, a Detroit utility, introduced work readiness workshops to help women, people of color and those with disabilities gain the credentials and job skills needed to access opportunities within the company.
Strategies for Success
Each case study drew on six strategies that make up the TPM framework. Participants in the initiatives studied used many – or all – of these strategies when implementing their programs. These six components are:
1. Organize for Employer Leadership and Collaboration
Employers should work together and identify similar workforce needs to determine the most promising opportunities for engagement.
For example, the San Diego EDC initiative used TPM as an organizing framework to bring together 17 employers. This group focused on aligning the region’s education system to better meet the talent needs of local companies offering software-related jobs.
2. Project Critical Job Demand
Employers should develop projections for job openings to accurately assess their needs, including in the areas of workforce size and skills.
The employers of all four case studies were able to communicate how many employees they needed, where they were needed and the ideal time frame for hiring. TPN’s planning process enabled employers to personalize their projections instead of relying on more generalized labor data.
3. Align and Communicate Job Requirements
Employers should clearly define the job skills — such as competency and credentials — that are vital to critical jobs. Employers Consumers Energy and DTE Energy identified core skills that incoming workers needed to succeed. Similarly, the San Diego EDC worked with local employers to emphasize skills-based hiring in their credential requirements.
4. Analyze Talent Supply
Employers should identify where they typically find their most qualified talent and consider untapped sources. The Kentucky Chamber Foundation, for instance, developed a new relationship with Blackburn Correctional Facility to hire formerly incarcerated workers for critical jobs.
5. Build Talent Supply Chains
Employers should fine-tune talent supply chains so that they work for employers, their partners and employees. Each of the four initiatives under review found that leveraging the data collected from employers — such as demand projections or skills requirements — resulted in more effective partnerships.
6. Engage in Continuous Improvement and Resiliency Planning
Employers should use data from their talent supply chain to better fill critical positions. One example: Consumers Energy used TPM’s continuous improvement process to create a more diversified workforce.
Five Lessons for Incorporating Opportunity Talent
The case studies reveal five lessons for employers who are interested in connecting with and leveraging opportunity talent. These five teachings are:
- Look to TPM as a versatile framework. Each of the four lead partners used the TPM framework to improve job opportunities and remove barriers to employment.
- Strong partnerships matter. Collaborating with outside organizations and institutions offering wrap-around services was key to helping businesses find new workers, engage existing employees and support their success.
- New obstacles may surface; listen to what the data tells you. Expect additional challenges to arise, be flexible and recognize how these challenges may affect your overall goals.
- Incorporate input from workers. Hiring initiatives should seek input from the very audience members they are trying to reach.
- Support the replication of your success. When designing hiring initiatives, employers should aim to document their findings and processes so that others can follow in their footsteps.
COVID-19 is not the sole cause of the nation’s evolving labor pool, the authors note. Several long-term shifts – such as an aging workforce, increased demand for complex skills and the changing values of workers – continue to shape the employment landscape across multiple sectors and industries. The researchers point to the utility of the TPM framework in helping businesses and workforce development partners find, reach and hire new talent.