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Training as a path to in-demand talent

Sept. 24, 2019 | By Leslie Deutsch, Director of Learning Solutions

group of young professionals brainstorm learning solutions

As global providers of technology and talent services, we frequently work with clients who ask about training as a path to addressing difficult talent needs.

Companies may understandably start the conversation with a one-size-fits-all view of skills development. They need a skill, and they need to find training that delivers. With that view, it’s tempting to piece together off-the-shelf programs or modules that are templated to provide a certification or other similar outcome.

Unfortunately, simply buying training is only part of the equation, and organizations may find that their efforts yield too many dropouts and not enough graduates, too little quality in the resulting graduates, or issues with costs and timelines. To achieve a stronger impact, talent leaders who want to build a training strategy should commit to three areas of focus: business-driven planning, candidate selection, and practical and compelling content.

Planning: Balance goals before setting up a program

Effective training is about understanding business outcomes and aligning training priorities with those outcomes. As an employer, take the time to understand in detail where your organization is today and where you need to be in the future. For example, your business may be expanding a product or technology function, so you know you will need to bring in 100 developers over the next three years in a location where the supply is depleted and where certain skills will benefit the pending expansion.

If you want to expand that supply and train lower-skilled workers to meet your need, ask yourself, “How flexible can we be in years of experience required? How much time and resources are we willing to commit to bring them up to speed?” There may also be other considerations. Is training aimed only at developing a skill, or is improving diversity and inclusion also a factor? A partner who knows what questions to ask can make the difference in setting a strategy that works.

Selection: Get smart about people and potential

Selecting talent for training is not always the same as evaluating talent for immediate placement. When looking for candidates to train, the organization needs to think in terms of candidate potential, so it can cast a wide net. The person with the potential to learn a programming language, for example, can be someone who has related programming experience. Alternatively, the person for a marketing or HR position may have unrelated experience but transferrable skills that would apply to the role.

Aptitude and attitude are subjective qualities, but there are assessment tools that can help with screening. On the other hand, knowing how to identify potential talent combined with screening for the intangibles can help narrow down the pool and increase training success.

Content: Set up learning for real-world impact

Our approach to training TEKsystems’ recruiters includes key areas of focus that can apply to any effective learning program: education, exposure and experience. Education is the actual delivery of new information, whether through a formal instructor-led setting, virtual training or any combination of those resources. The second part is exposure to the activity, whether seeing the learnings put into practice through a lab or shadowing a more experienced person in the role or looking beyond the company walls to industry best practices. Finally, there is the experiential component, where the trainee works with a more tenured person in a live setting, practicing their skills in the presence of a mentor.

A comprehensive and blended approach picks up on the gaps that can trip up many learning programs. For example, learning cannot be put into practice without hands-on exposure, and great content is forgotten without reinforcement. Focus on the complete picture, and the outcome will be consistent and contextual, with quality results in terms of performance and impact.

Putting together a complete program

Our clients look to a solutions partner for the guidance to understand the potential pitfalls that can compromise a training program. Often, they turn to us after trying pieces of the learning puzzle on their own and realizing limited success. With someone else covering the planning, candidate selection and program content, organizations not only benefit from a training program that improves near-term results, but they have a system that promotes continuous improvement. It’s a result that can give an employer a much-needed boost in building the skills that will move the business forward.

(Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in Allegis Group’s report, “Cultivating Skills to Build the Talent Pipelines of Tomorrow.”)

As the director of the Learning Solutions practice within TEKsystems Global Services, Leslie Deutsch oversees a team that drives learning and adoption services within our clients’ organizations. These programs focus on building a future workforce with tomorrow’s skills, upskilling and reskilling current teams, or changing behavior needed to impact productivity.

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