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Close Your Talent Gap with Alternative Workforce Development

As the Great Resignation continues and employers everywhere are trying to fill talent gaps on their teams, thinking outside the box has become essential. Traditional recruiting tactics are no longer working, as evidenced by the fact that demand in the workforce still far outweighs supply.

With hiring challenges abound and increasing pressure to create a positive work environment that embodies diversity and fosters loyalty, many employers are at a loss for where to turn next. In fact, nearly 40% of American employers say they cannot find people with the skills they need, even for entry-level jobs.*

With that alarming stat in mind, I began to wonder: are we looking for talent in the wrong places? Is it possible there’s an untapped talent pool that employers are overlooking? And while we’re at it, is there more we can be doing to create and maintain a healthy workplace environment that embodies diversity and inclusion and fosters a greater sense of belonging?

The answer (as I see it) is yes, yes, and yes!

Enter: the alternative workforce (and, no—it’s probably not what you think).

Originally perceived as contract or “gig” workers, the alternative workforce today also includes a talent pool of Gen Z-ers who are pursuing a less traditional career path—one that doesn’t necessarily include a 4-year degree. From trade schools to professional learning communities, local career development programs, and more, there is a large, often-overlooked talent pool of culturally diverse candidates out there who are not only available for work, they are also highly trainable.

No, these folks won’t have the same level of education as the college-grad crowd—BUT that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just the opposite, in fact, particularly if you offer on-the-job professional development and training. By pursuing young minds who are eager to learn and ready to work—and training them in a way that maps their skillsets and professional goals to your business—you’ll be poised to fill your staffing gap quicker while building a powerful workforce that is armed with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills. Plus, by providing equitable access to ongoing professional development across your organization, you create an environment where all employees can thrive personally and professionally.

That said, how well and which strategies you use to train and develop your employees matter. According to McKinsey, who’s extensively researched workforce-development programs and economic strategies across the globe, effective training incorporates these five elements:

  • Programs are immersive and engaging
  • Programs include specialized training modules that integrate technical, behavioral, and mindset skills development
  • Curriculum emphasizes practical learning
  • Assessments are performed regularly
  • Instruction is delivered in a range of formats (video, in-person, asynchronous, etc.)*

While developing your employees can take on many forms, the above serves as a good high-level guide for how to approach building out professional development and training programs that work.

As employers continue to face challenges in hiring and retention, it is more important than ever to create a workplace environment that makes employees feel content and satisfied, fosters a sense of pride, and is a safe space for employees of all races, ethnicities, genders, and abilities. By pursuing an alternative workforce development approach and offering on-the-job training, you can, in essence, accomplish all of the above. It’s a win-win for you, your existing employees, and the bright minds who have something of value to offer but may not have been given a change.