#LIAW - The Value of Inspiring Employers

Across the nation, there is a high demand for workers in trade occupations, but millions of these jobs are left unfilled due to a lack of skilled workers. The wages for individuals in these fields can be very competitive, and comparable to the salaries of individuals with four-year degrees. As the need for skilled individuals grows, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative is helping local employers connect with entry-level talent and develop their skills to fit the companies’ needs.

To help employers reach new hires, CareerEdge has engaged companies in the “back-end” process of selecting candidates for funded training programs. The employers review applications and hire the candidates for their company first, and then selected candidates are placed in the training class to develop the skills needed for their new role. CareerEdge assisted with the screening process and the marketing of the programs, which included designing and developing flyers, distribution to community partners, news releases to media, social media marketing and more.

Thanks to the support of a donor from Gulf Coast Community Foundation, CareerEdge has worked with employers to use this method of engagement with two very different occupations; Automotive Technician training and Certified Nursing Assistant training. To implement the Automotive Technician training, CareerEdge partnered with a local dealership to select and hire a class of 10 students who were paid $12 an hour during the class. Once they graduated, they received a full-time position with the company for $13 an hour, plus benefits. With the success of this first pilot, CareerEdge offered the program again, this time expanding to six participating dealerships. This time employers posted the training opportunity and position on their websites and selected the desired individuals to participate in the class. The graduates of the program were paid throughout their training and gained full-time status and a wage increase upon completion of the class. As more employers implement this development strategy, the dealerships have begun to see the value in creating trainings that will fill positions on their shop floors, and put their workers on a career-ladder to success.

This pre-screening technique was so successful in the automotive sector that it has been expanded to the healthcare sector as well. CareerEdge partnered with Tidewell Hospice in a similar training strategy for Certified Nursing Assistants. The employer hosted information sessions and marketed the program for interested applicants. Twelve participants were chosen to take part in the American Red Cross training program. The students immediately entered full-time positions upon successful completion of the class. Employers had a sense of investment in the trainees throughout the process and were able to participate in the development and the training of the class. The value of this strategy is evident in the successful completion of all 12 graduates and the closing of skills gaps within the organization.

The successful implementation of this pre-screening technique has demonstrated that just a small change in employer involvement can potentially lead to a shift in the development and growth of a region’s skilled labor supply. With so many unfilled jobs in the trades, CareerEdge has learned that it is important to inspire not only the job seekers but the employers as well. By partnering with employers, there is an opportunity for them to see first-hand some of the benefits or options for internal training strategies that could take their entry-level workforce and convert them into the highly-skilled workforce that they need to succeed.

Mireya Eavey

-- Executive Director, CareerEdge Funders Collaborative