"Isn't it better to hire a person that has great potential to fill the job rather than bemoan the lack of candidates?" On my previous post, commenter David Bley asked that rhetorical question. More and more, employers are sharing this perspective.
With job growth lagging and an eager workforce that's unable to find opportunities that match their skill sets, it would be a mistake for hiring managers to lose faith in peoples' ability to learn, adapt, and produce in new roles.
Nearly four in ten employers say they have open positions for which they can't find a candidate with the right qualifications. That's a problem we can fix by focusing on creating skills and developing talent, instead of waiting for the elusive perfect hire.
For instance, some smart companies in the tech sector are re-skilling workers. We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Cisco's Deborah Henken, senior manager with [email protected]. Her company has the bold goal to attract and train hundreds of thousands of new networking professionals by offering certification courses in networking technology and other training resources. Obtaining even one IT certification will improve a job seekers' odds of finding employment, as 60 percent of large businesses report having a hard time filling tech positions. This of course helps Cisco, but it's the labor market as a whole that benefits when those individuals acquire skills that will be relevant for the foreseeable future.
Not all companies have an infrastructure like Cisco's to train prospective talent, and not all job seekers have the resources to invest in certification courses. But a number of free or low-cost IT training services have emerged, such as Codecademy and Google Code University, which many companies use as talent development tools.
Other companies are looking for under-leveraged pools of talent. One such example: veterans. The unemployment rate for veterans who served since 9/11 was 12.1 percent in 2011. Veterans bring to the table transferrable skills, but on paper, a lot of hiring managers haven't seen how they translate to the private sector — in fact, two in five employers say it's their biggest challenge when recruiting this group. But communications, team leadership and technical skills learned through military service are foundational to many roles in sales, customer service, IT and project management positions. Humana, the health insurance company, understands this, and offers special training to their veteran recruits knowing they'll be quick to learn the skills required of their new roles. Last August, they pledged to hire 1,000 veterans and spouses of active duty soldiers by the end of 2013 - a noble commitment. Humana's director of inclusion and diversity, A.J. Hubbard, recently told us they were well on the way to achieving that goal.
These companies are empowering employment in profound, replicable ways. When industry leaders like Cisco and Humana create the supply of talent rather than "bemoan" the lack of supply, it's an investment that will pay for the organization, the newly skilled workers, and an economy that's still waiting for a robust revival.
This does not discount deeper challenges in the talent shortage, namely the disjointed relationship between higher education and the private sector. Only two percent of college graduates graduate with computer sciences degrees, despite the fact IT job listings on CareerBuilder have grown between 20 and 40 percent during the recovery years. Similarly, we'll need an army of new graduates out of nursing and medical schools to accommodate a health sector projected to grow significantly for the next decade.
Right now, resolving this recruitment challenge shouldn't be the sole job of the education system or government — nor can employers expect job seekers to learn these skills without some help or guidance.
Companies can continue to swim in the same talent pool. Or they can take the lead to dig, build, and fill a bigger pool with talent they develop themselves.